Wes Welker receiving the franchise tag is on par with the sun rising in terms of inevitable developments in our lives. I can only speak for myself, but both of those events happened today where I’m seated. If the sun didn’t rise where you are, then you shouldn’t be reading this post.

Welker has officially been slapped with the franchise tag by New England, according to Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe. The move guarantees that he’ll be paid at least $9.4 million next year under the wide receiver tag, but the Patriots’ presumed goal is to work out a long-term deal with their slot receiver who easily led the league in receptions last year with 122 (Roddy White was second with 100).

But now the next question to be answered in Foxboro revolves around Welker’s value, an equation that will factor in his age (31 in May), and his production compared to other elite receivers like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. We examined the possible impact that Stevie Johnson’s new contract could have on Welker earlier, and how it could persuade the Patriots to stand firm and force their top receiver to play under the franchise tag.

Welker’s long-term value is a delicate question during a delicate time for a franchise that wants to respect its top receiver and supply Tom Brady with premier passing options during his final two-to-three years of prime productivity. The cost and risk associated with committing to a receiver who’s beginning to age need to be balanced, especially on an offense that’s dramatically shifted its focus to the tight end.