New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker gets away from Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed as linebacker Ray Lewis looks on in the first half of the NFL AFC Championship football game in Foxborough, Mass., January 20, 2013. (REUTERS/Jim Young)
A year ago this month, the New England Patriots tried to convince everyone that their appreciation for Wes Welker was deep.
Welker was "a contractual priority," the club said in a news release, and management was hopeful he would "remain a Patriot for years to come."
To prevent the NFL's most prolific receiver -- by far -- since 2007 from becoming an unrestricted free agent last year, the Patriots slapped the franchise tag on Welker. Then pissed him off all year in negotiations, right up to Tuesday night.