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March 12. 2013 8:28PM

Patriots' Welker becomes free agent


New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Albert McClellan (50) on a punt return during the first quarter of the AFC championship game. Welker became a free agent Tuesday. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports FILE)

Wes Welker is a free agent.

Welker, the New England Patriots' record-setting receiver, did not re-sign with the team before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline. Thus, Welker became a free agent, eligible to make his own deal with any NFL team - including the Patriots.

The Patriots and Welker reportedly were in last-minute negotiations on Tuesday, to no avail.

Monday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft reiterated his desire to keep Welker on the team.

"We want Wes," Kraft said, according to the New York Post. "We really do."

Kraft's comments are like the many he has relayed over the last year and a half. Kraft also said, "I love Wes Welker," according to ESPN. "I hope he remains a Patriot for life, just like Tom Brady."

Welker has become the most productive receiver in the game, in terms of receptions, since joining the Pats in 2007, and he has caught more passes from Brady than any player in history.

With reports from the Boston Herald


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