What does Welker news mean?

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports today that Patriots receiver Wes Welker has no plans to re-sign before first testing the free-agent market.

Naturally, what this tells us is that the Patriots haven't matched Welker's contractual desires to the point that he is enticed enough to forgo seeing if he can get more on the open market.

I wouldn't read into it much more than that.

Unrestricted free agents can begin talking to other teams on March 9 but can’t officially sign with them until March 12.

The Patriots and Welker seem to be more aligned than they were at this point last year in terms of a potential multiyear deal. If they were at opposite end zones at this time last year, they are closer to meeting at the 50-yard line this time around.

But they're not there yet.

For Welker, this is a chance to gauge his worth on the open market with no restrictions. He has never had that chance since joining the Patriots in 2007, before he became the NFL's most productive receiver over a six-year span.

Welker has earned that right.

Still, it would be considered a surprise if he is ultimately not back in New England in 2013 and beyond.