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Wes Welker says he's 'happy for' Aaron Hernandez

Wes Welker finds himself in a strange position with the 2012 season soon to be underway.

He's in his prime at 31, and he's put up one of the most statistically impressive five-year stretches in the history of the wide receiver position. And yet, the New England Patriots are giving every indication they're prepared to move on.

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First, Rob Gronkowski got paid. Next, Aaron Hernandez. It's unlikely there's much pie left for Welker, who is playing this season on his $9.5 million franchise tender.

"Good for him. I'm definitely happy for him," Welker said of Hernandez, via the Boston Herald. "He's a great player and done a lot of great things for us and it's good to have him here."

With Hernandez now locked up for five years and Gronkowski six, Welker refused to speculate if his own hopes of a long-term deal are lost. and NFL Network's Albert Breer reported Monday the Hernandez signing doesn't close the door on a Welker extension.

"I think you have to ask coach (Bill) Belichick that," he said. "I'm just going out here trying to do my job the best of my ability and let everything else take care of itself."

As Gregg Rosenthal wrote Monday, Welker might have to follow the path of past Patriots like Deion Branch, Richard Seymour and others, who had to leave Foxborough to maximize their earnings. It might sting his pride, but Welker will land on his feet either way.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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