By Matt Noonan
Various reports confirmed on Tuesday that New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker signed his franchise tender.
Welker, who had expressed previously on the NFL Network that he was in no rush to sign his tender, will be under contract for one-year, and be guaranteed $9.515 million for the upcoming season.
However, if the Patriots and Welker wish to continue their current partnership beyond the 2012 campaign, they’ll need to negotiate a contract between now and July 15. If both sides don’t reach an agreement, the highly touted wide receiver will have to play with his current one-year deal.
New England has spent the past few weeks and months bolstering their receiving core by adding Brandon Lloyd, Anthony Gonzalez and Donte Stallworth, but will certainly appreciate having their most reliable target back on the field.
Welker concluded the 2011 season with 122 receptions, and nine touchdowns.