The New England Patriots have designated four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Wes Welker as their franchise player, a league source confirmed.
It comes at a cost of roughly $9.4 million.
Welker led the league with 122 receptions last season, ranking second in receiving yards with 1,569 behind Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson
During his time with the Patriots, Welker has caught 554 passes for 6,105 yards and 31 touchdowns.
The Patriots want to lock up Welker with a long-term deal. Under NFL rules governing franchise players, they have until July 16 to do so. Otherwise, he’ll play the entire season under the franchise tag.
The Tennessee Titans have tagged safety Michael Griffin as their franchise player.
The Titans announced the move Monday a couple hours before the NFL deadline to use the tag. That means the Titans decided not to tag cornerback Cortland Finnegan before free agency begins March 13.
The move to tag Griffin still allows the Titans to work on a long-term contract before July 16 with the safety who was their top draft pick in 2007 out of Texas. Griffin was due to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13.
Another team could sign Griffin to a contract, but the franchise tag allows the Titans to either match the contract or be awarded two No. 1 draft picks.
Cowboys go with Spencer
The Dallas Cowboys have used the franchise tag to hold onto free agent outside linebacker Anthony Spencer.
Spencer, 28, recorded 88 tackles, six sacks and four forced fumbles last season.
He’s now due an $8.8 million one-year tender,. If he’s not signed to a long-term deal by July 16, the NFL deadline for franchise players, then he’ll play the entire season under the tag.
Two seasons ago, Spencer had 63 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles as he started every game.
The New York Giants have placed the franchise tag on punter Steve Weatherford, who spent only one season with them.
Weatherford was a key contributor in the team’s run to the Super Bowl championship, both as a punter and a holder on kicks.
Weatherford has played six seasons in the NFL with five teams. He was the Saints’ regular punter for 2006 and ’07, played for New Orleans, Kansas City and Jacksonville in 2008, then joined the New York Jets for 2009 and 2010.
He left the Jets but didn’t switch stadiums, signing with the Giants for 2011. Weatherford averaged 45.7 yards gross and 39.2 net, and was particularly effective as the Giants won their last two regular-season games and four postseason games.
Weatherford will be paid the average of the top five salaries at the position by the Giants. If he signs with another team, New York will get two first-round draft picks.
Broncos tap Prater
The Denver Broncos have franchised standout kicker Matt Prater, at a cost of $2.66 million.
The figure is guaranteed once he signs the one-year tender.
"Placing the franchise tag on Matt Prater ensures that he’ll be a Bronco in 2012," Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway announced. "Matt’s a very talented kicker and important part of our team. This gives us the ability to continue working on a long-term agreement."
The Broncos have until July 16 to sign Prater to a long-term deal. Otherwise, he’ll play the entire season under the franchise designation
The Jacksonville Jaguars have used the franchise tag to hold onto standout kicker Josh Scobee.
The Jaguars have been in talks with Scobee’s agent, Ken Harris.
“We are placing the franchise tag on Josh today and it is our goal to reach a long term deal with him,” Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. “Josh was drafted by the Jaguars and is someone that I have great respect for as a player and as a person.”
Talks are expected to continue going forward with the goal of reaching a long-term deal.
Meanwhile, Scobee won’t be immediately signing his $2.6 million, one-year tender.
The Jaguars have until July 16 to negotiate a long-term deal with Scobee. Otherwise, he’ll play the entire season under the franchise tender.