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Wes Welker, Patriots reportedly face financial gap

The contract statuses of the record 21 players to receive the franchise tag this offseason are evenly split between players who have received multi-year extensions, have signed their tenders and have tenders awaiting signatures. For the 14 franchised players who have not received a multi-year contract, the July 16 deadline is fast approaching.

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One of those players is New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, who has signed his tender, but a considerable gulf in guaranteed money on a multi-year deal needs to be bridged, Greg Bedard writes in his must-read "Sunday Football Notes" column in the Boston Globe.

The gap in guaranteed money between the two sides is around $6 million, according to Bedard, which likely places the Patriots' discount-minded number at around $15 million.

As is the case with most players who receive the franchise tag, Welker is seeking the cost of two franchise tags in guaranteed money on a multi-year deal. With the receiver tender worth $9.515 million this season, it would cost the Patriots $11.418 million (120 percent his current tender) to franchise him again in 2013. That puts the Welker camp's guaranteed money goal at $20.933 million, a justifiable number in their eyes as it's similar to $20.5 million in full and partial guarantees the Washington Redskins gave Pierre Garcon in March.

Welker is on the wrong side of 30, but he's been a much more productive player than Garcon. That said, the Patriots have not made a habit of overpaying aging players. New England is also in good shape, cap-wise, possessing nearly $11 million in cap room at last check. If Welker is unwilling to bend to his number, the Patriots could be inclined to let him play it out this season under the franchise tag before addressing the receiver's long-term future in Foxborough next offseason.

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