New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker will not re-sign with the team until he has tested his value on the free-agent market, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter on Twitter.
Patriots free-agent WR Wes Welker has no plans to re-sign with New England before first testing the free-agent market next week.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2013
The move is not all that surprising. It's been unclear whether New England intended to re-sign Welker, Tom Brady's favorite target over the past six seasons.
Early in the 2012 season, the Patriots slotted Julian Edelman into Welker's spot. Welker started only one of the first four games, and his stats dropped. Some saw the move as a sign the Patriots didn't plan to bring back the veteran receiver.
But Welker eventually regained his role and put up strong numbers. Still, the Boston Globe reports Welker has "mild disdain" for the Patriots because of the way he was treated.
It seems unlikely that either party would benefit from a split. Welker has thrived playing with Brady, and New England's offense benefits from Welker's ability out of the slot.
Welker led the NFL in receptions in three of his six years in New England and tallied more than 110 catches all but once. Last season, he finished with 118 catches for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns. Free agency starts March 12.