Patriots officially franchise tag Wes Welker today


The New England Patriots are expected to place the franchise tag on wide receiver Wes Welker today.

The one-year tag is worth $9.5 million to the NFL’s leading receiver, and give the Pats more flexibility to work out a long-term deal with the wideout before the 2012 season. Franchise-tagging Welker would keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent next month.

You do recall the Butterfingers publicity stunt in Boston right after the Super Bowl? Which made Welker the comedic foil? Well, at worst Welker is getting 9.5 million reasons to forget about it.

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Lockout Threat Leaves Indianapolis Colts’ Agenda in Limbo

Well, it hasn’t happened yet.

The extension of the NFL collective bargaining agreement’s expiration deadline by one day Thursday and then by seven days Friday has had the football world — including the Indianapolis Colts organization and fan base — holding its collective breath.

However, if and when the CBA does expire — I’m still inclined to believe it will — Jim Irsay’s and Bill Polian’s offseason agenda will be set to the side with significant issues yet to be resolved.

And I’d assume those issues are far more numerous than Indy’s brass would prefer them to be.

By Drew Allen

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Franchise Tag Best for Both Peyton Manning and Indianapolis Colts

It’s quite fitting that the Indianapolis Colts have designated quarterback Peyton Manning as their “franchise player” by applying the franchise tag on the four-time NFL MVP.

The Colts tagged Manning earlier this week with an “exclusive” label, ensuring that the Super Bowl XLI MVP would not become a free agent (whenever free agency begins).

Under the franchise tag, a player is ensured a one-year contract worth the average of the top five salaries at his respective position or 120 percent of the player’s salary the previous season. Since Manning earned more than the average the top five highest-paid quarterbacks in the league, he’ll receive the latter option, which will approximate to $23 million.

By Drew Allen

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Bears should corner market on Asomugha

By Rikki Greenberg

The Bears have problems.

So many that it’s depressing to go into, but TSB informs no matter how disheartening the story may be. One of the problems the Bears face is a depleted and weak secondary. Every opponent the Bears defense faced this season knew they had a decent chance of putting up big numbers because the secondary failed to stop many of the people.
Looking at the Bears defensive league ranks last season is enough to make you stock up on the Kleenex for next season. The defense finished 30th against the pass (allowing 241.2 yards per game) and 23rd in first downs (314) allowed. Before your Mike Brown jersey becomes Fido’s next chew toy, I come with some good off season news. It’s rumored that the Chicago Bears are considering Oakland Raiders star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is up for free agency should he escape the franchise tag contract that he signed in 2008.   If Asomugha escapes the tag again this year, he would be a fantastic addition to the Bears roster for the following reasons:

1)      Decreased missed tackles

Numerous times throughout 08 (Tampa Bay week 3, Minnesota week 7, Houston week 17 to name a few) the Bears secondary had plenty of missed tackles. Many times we saw an opposing player get taken down 10-15 yards later then they should have. Of course, the cover 2 scheme is another reason for missed tackles in some situations. However, for this scheme Asomugha would be extremely valuable because he’s aggressive enough to go after the ball carrier and take him to the ground without the help of a second teammate. The Bears need that kind of added muscle in the secondary.

2)      Better coverage

The Bears secondary also had a nasty little habit of leaving a ridiculous amount of space between them and the opposing players. This becomes particularly destructive when an offensive threat such as Saints wide receiver Marques Colston can capitalize on this open opportunity with a 22 yard pass completion and a new set of downs for the Saints in the fourth quarter during Week 15 of the regular season. Former Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian and his 99-yard touchdown pass during Week 13 of the regular season is another example of what happens when a big-play receiver is left wide open.

If Asomugha were to suit up in a Bears uniform next season, he could help alleviate some of these space issues in the Bears secondary because of his recovery speed and closing speed. The first time 2009 Pro Bowl starter could teach other Bears defensive backs some things about decreasing space and increasing contact, if Lovie manipulates the scheme to let him.

The Bears secondary finished the season with veteran cornerback Nathan Vasher rookie Zackary Bowman and starting safety Mike Brown (is there ever a season, he’s not injured?) on the IR list. As a result, the Bears are in desperate need of an athletic, healthy cornerback to fill the holes in the secondary. The scrappy, fearless playing style of Asomugha is exactly what the Bears need, especially since Brown isn’t going to be available for the 2009 season. With Asomugha on the depth chart, the core of defensive backs will get a boost of leadership, experience and talent. Even though Asomugha only has an extra year of experience in comparison to Bears second season cornerbacks Corey Graham, Trumain McBride and Marcus Hamilton, he’s years ahead in football knowledge and skill.