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Patriots Wide Receiver Wes Welker to Test Free Agency

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New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker will test free agency this offseason, according to a report. The Patriots and Welker were said to be working toward an agreement to keep the five time Pro Bowl selection in Foxboro.

Leon Halip

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker was reportedly in negotiations to keep him with the reigning AFC East champs. This morning, however, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Welker has no plans to re-sign with the Patriots without first testing the free agent market. Welker on the free agent market could be a huge boon for the Miami Dolphins.

Of course, there is going to be speculation that the Dolphins could go after their former player. Welker played for the Dolphins from 2004-2006 before being traded to the Patriots. Welker had been a restricted free agent in the 2007 offseason, with Miami planning to bring him back. When the Patriots threatened to sign Welker to a contract with a “poison pill,” or a huge salary escalator if Welker played a certain number of games in the state of Florida in any one season, a move the Dolphins would not be able to match, the two teams agreed to a trade.

Since joining the Patriots, Welker has been to five Pro Bowls, and was as AP First Team All Pro selection twice. He has had more than 110 receptions in ever year in New England except an injury shortened 2010 season, where he put up 86 catches for 848 yards and 7 touchdowns – and was named to the Pro Bowl.

But, what may be a bigger source of joy around the Dolphins’ complex today is simply Welker being on the free agent market. It’s no secret that Miami will be looking at free agent wide receivers this year. Earlier this week, the Kansas City Chiefs took Dwayne Bowe out of the potential pool of available wide receivers when they signed him to a five-year contract. With Welker definitely heading for the market, it keeps another big name wide out in the pool, and possibly keeps some of the Dolphins’ competition for receivers focused on him.

Of course, there's also the joy that Welker could sign somewhere out of the AFC East, taking a weapon away from the Patriots and meaning the Dolphins will not have toface him twice a year.

The free agent negotiating period opens this Saturday. Free agents can begin signing with their new teams on Tuesday, March 12, at 4pm ET.