The Patriots have publicly said that they placed the tag on Welker just as an insurance policy just in case they aren't able to work out an extension with him. On Tuesday, Welker responded to the team's decision to tag him on Twitter. The desire for him to be here beyond 2012 seems to be mutual.
Glad that I will be a Patriot in 2012. and hopefully '13,'14,'15,'16,'17,'18..........— Wes Welker (@WesWelker) March 6, 2012
Welker's franchise tag is non-exclusive, meaning that teams other than the Patriots are allowed to talk with him. However, the Patriots will have a chance to match any offer given to Welker. In the unlikely situation they would let Welker go to another team, the Patriots would pick up draft picks from that team. However, it appears that Welker will in fact be in New England in 2012, and hopefully beyond that.
After being acquired from the Miami Dolphins in 2007, Welker has established himself as one of the best receivers in franchise history. Welker has totaled 554 receptions for 6,105 yards and 31 touchdowns in his five years in New England.