Wes Welker: 'Not too worried' about deal

INDIANAPOLIS -- New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, whose contract expires shortly after Super Bowl XLVI, said Sunday he can't see himself in another uniform next season.

"I plan on being back," Welker said Sunday after the Patriots arrived for the Super Bowl. "I am not really too worried about that right now. I am fully concentrated on this game and what we have to do, but I plan on being back."

Welker, who leads the NFL in receptions over the last five years (554), might not have much of a say in that decision. If the sides can't hammer out an extension by the start of the 2012 league year in March, the Patriots would likely put the franchise tag on the 30-year-old. The tag would restrict his ability to test the open market and essentially ensure his return for at least one more season.

At a time when he's preparing for the Super Bowl, Welker stiff-armed any more talk about his future.

"This is all stuff that we can address at another point," he said. "It can be a story after the season is over, but right now, we are just concentrating on this game and what we have to do to win this game. If you win this game, all of that other stuff takes care of itself."

Welker is making a little more than $2 million in the final season of a five-year, $18 million deal that has been one of the biggest bargains in the NFL. By any measure, Welker is in line for a raise.

Last week, owner Robert Kraft said it was his hope the sides could reach an agreement.

"I think Wes wants to be here and we want him here," Kraft remarked. "Hopefully when the season ends, both sides will be wise enough to consummate something. He's pretty special. Any time there's a player on this team I can look eye to eye and be at the same level, he's an important guy."

Coach Bill Belichick also talked Sunday about what Welker, who had 122 receptions this season (one short of matching his career high), means to the Patriots.

"The whole Wes Welker thing started when he was in Miami," Belichick said Sunday. "He was a very frustrating player to coach against because we really couldn't handle him. He caught passes, he returned kicks, and then when (Olindo) Mare got hurt he went in and kicked extra points and field goals and kicked off against us, and that was annoying, too.

"We doubled him, we played him in a lot of different combinations. He was always the guy that we were trying to game plan for. When we had an opportunity to trade for him, we did that, and felt like he'd be a good addition to our team. And he has been.

"We have just as much trouble covering him in practice, and Tom (Brady) has just as much confidence throwing to him as the quarterbacks in Miami did when we were trying to defend him. We don't defend him any better in practice probably than we did trying to defend him when he was at the Dolphins."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.