Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker has always been viewed as the ultimate team player, and his loyalty has been considered one of his greatest assets off the field, too.
That's why it shouldn't be viewed as much of a surprise that several people close to Welker believe if he's under contract, he'll honor it and won't hold out for a long-term deal.
Welker's teammates said throughout the 2011 season that he never spoke about his contract behind the scenes. It simply wasn't a distraction he was willing to bring to the locker room.
Before last season, though, those close to Welker said he worked out vigorously to rebound from 2010, have the best season of his career and earn a long-term contract. That's exactly what happened, as Welker finished with 122 receptions (one shy of his career best) and career highs of 1,569 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
The Patriots assigned the franchise tag to Welker on Monday, guaranteeing him $9.4 million in 2012. The organization also said it was a priority to turn that into a long-term contract.
While it probably wasn't overly exciting to receive the franchise tag, Welker tweeted this week that he wanted to remain in New England for years to come. But if that contract extension doesn't happen in the immediate future, those who know Welker really doubt that he would hold out.
Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.