Feb 5, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (81) celebrates with wide receiver Wes Welker (83) after scoring a touchdown during the second half of Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Morning Cup of Gronk

The two sides were in communication about a contract extension yesterday, but they couldn’t reach anything before the deadline, according to a source. As a result, Welker will play under the franchise tag this season, and he’ll earn $9.5 million in guaranteed money.

That’s because the NFL-mandated deadline for teams to come to an agreement on a long-term contract with franchise players came and went at 4 p.m. Monday and Welker and the Patriots did not hammer out a new deal.

New England has one of the most dangerous and dynamic passing attacks in the NFL. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady still is playing at an elite level and has a bevy of weapons at receiver (Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney) and tight end (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez).

The New England Patriots and receiver Wes Welker didn’t reach a contract extension by Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline for franchise-tagged players. That means Welker will play the 2012 season on a one-year, $9.5 million deal, leading to the question: What happens after that?

The New England Patriots may have gone down a road of no return yesterday when they failed to reach a contract extension with their franchise player. Patriots wide receiver, Wes Welker will have to wait until the conclusion of the 2012 season before continuing negotiations with his current team. That means that the league’s leading receiver could technically become a high-profile free agent next year.

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