Will Wes Welker be one of Tom Brady’s favorite receivers in 2013? (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft stated his feelings about Wes Welker about as plainly as he could.

“I love Wes Welker,” Kraft told ESPN on Monday. “I hope he remains a Patriot for life, just like Tom Brady.”

But that doesn’t mean that Welker won’t be a free agent when the market opens at 4 p.m. EDT today.

“We want Wes,” Kraft said (via the New York Post). “We really do.”

Multiple reports indicate that Welker will return, and the same goes for cornerback Aqib Talib (via Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe).

But Talib is drawing interest from at least two teams: the Philadelphia Eagles (with Nnamdi Asomugha in limbo) and the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, according to USA Today’s Mike Garafolo, are among those interested in Talib, who played for Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris when he was the Tampa Bay coach. (Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen also was in Tampa.) The Redskins, though, have serious salary-cap issues and their interest seems to be nothing more than chatter.

There’s a lot of that just hours before the league’s new year begins. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that the Patriots are interested in Mike Wallace, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, although they’re considered a longshot.

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