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Patriots Rumors: Wes Welker, Kevin Faulk, Brian Hoyer, Deion Branch

 

The New England Patriots weren’t able to stop the Giants from their second Super Bowl win in the last four years but at least Patriot fans can now look forward to addressing some of the team’s roster issues. Here’s some of the news worthy rumors that pertain to the Pat’s.

Wes Welker

Welker has shoulder the blame for not coming down with a catch that could have helped to secure the team’s fourth championship. Wes is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the coming the weeks and reports have mentioned that Patriots intend to use their franchise tag on him to prevent him from hitting the market. The franchise tag will run the team $9.4 million for the upcoming season but could be used to buy them some extra time renegotiate a long-term deal with Welker who will be 31 at the start of the 2012 season.

Kevin Faulk 

New England chose to deactivate Faulk for the Super Bowl and considering that he played 88 snaps this season after returning from a torn ACL, there’s a good chance that Faulk may retire following the season.

Faulk’s teammates wanted to win this one for him but that ultimately wasn’t meant to be.

“I just feel real bad for guys like Kevin, trying to go [off] into the sunset,” said Patriots CB Kyle Arrington, via ESPN Boston.

Brian Hoyer

This year’s group of free agent quarterbacks isn’t exactly very deep as Drew Brees will be franchised and were still waiting to see if Peyton Manning will be able to play again.

Other than them, Matt Flynn, Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton figure to headline this year’s group but one interesting name that’s been somewhat under the radar is Patriots QB Brian Hoyer. He’ll be a restricted free agent when free agency starts in March but there should be plenty of interest in him depending on what the team elects to do in regards to his free agent tender.

If New England uses a lower level tender on him, prospective teams may be willing to pay the draft compensation to pry him away from the Pat’s. New England isn’t expected to do anything drastic like they did with Matt Cassel so the only way that they would use their highest level tender on him was if they already had a trade partner lined up. Reports from last week suggested that rookie QB Ryan Mallett actually did a great job of getting into shape and learning the team’s offense despite not being active for games. Learning from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is as good of marketing tool as any. Just ask Josh McDaniels and Bill O’Brien.

Hoyer will draw interest but to what extend remains to be seen.

Deion Branch

There’s no doubt that Branch is no where close to the player he once was for the Patriots and seeing balls bounce off of the tips of fingers during the Super Bowl only helps to illustrate that much. Still, Branch is hoping that the Patriots will consider re-signing him during free agency.

This is where I want to be, this is where I want to retire,” said Brach following the Super Bowl, per Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “This is why I came back, for the opportunity to play in this game. I’m pretty sure I will be here in this position next year.”

That’s fairly optimistic considering that there’s a very deep group of free agent wide receivers and the team has a number of quality draft picks that they could use on young talent but I guess there’s a chance that Belichick keeps him around.