New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker has officially received the franchise tag, Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe reports.
Using the franchise tag allows the two sides to continue talks towards a long-term extension. The deadline to do so is July 15.
Welker led the NFL in receptions (122) and was second behind Detroit's Calvin Johnson in receiving yards (1,569) in 2011, earning a fourth straight trip to the Pro Bowl. Since joining the Patriots as a restricted free agent in 2007, Welker has 554 receptions -- four shy of becoming the franchise's all-time leader -- for 6,105 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Welker earned $2.5 million in 2011 and would receive a substantial raise with the franchise tender, which is projected to be worth $9.443 million in 2012.