NEPD Staff Writer: Tony Santorsa
It was just about a year ago that I deemed Wes Welker the perfect Patriot—that he should be a Patriot for life.
I made this bold statement following Welker’s infamous drop in Super Bowl XLVI as he was set to hit free agency. I strongly believed that Welker deserved a contract extension—I didn’t necessarily believe that he should be devalued due to his timely drop.
Welker has recorded 100-plus receptions in five of his six seasons here in New England and has shown no signs of slowing down. Granted, durability might have been a concern due to all the hits that Welker takes, but still the record shows that Welker is one of the NFL’s most durable and dependable wide receivers.
Now as we fast-forward a year, I’m starting to have second thoughts.
Welker had yet another infamous drop in the NFL’s biggest stage as he failed to come through in the second straight year—but this time it wasn’t the Super Bowl, it was the AFC Championship.
Should the Patriots hand out a multi-year contract to No. 83? I’m not too sure now.
Can we label Welker as an elite wide receiver? I’m not willing to go that far—considering that elite wide receivers don’t have costly drops in the most critical situations.
Welker has had two and both of those two drops have propelled those two teams to victory.
There are certainly plenty of options in dealing with Welker but of course not all of the options will please him.
Bill Belichick could choose to franchise tag him for the second straight season, but that could cost the Patriots $11.4 for just one season. I really don’t see Belichick willing to go to that measure to retain one of the league’s top slot receivers.
The latest on the Welker contract situation is that the Patriots might be open to agree to a two-year deal.
Per Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston:
If I had to project, I think two years at $16 million would be something the team might be agreeable to, but I would imagine that would fall short of Welker’s hopes.
If Welker doesn’t like New England’s initial offer, then it’d be safe to expect that the Patriots would let Welker test the open waters of free agency.
Welker is among a very strong free agent class at the wide receiver as he’s joined with Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, Greg Jennings and Danny Amendola.
If a team is willing to go the extra mile for Welker and meet his asking price, then I certainly don’t see the Patriots matching that offer.
The way that Belichick and New England’s front office works is rather simple: They place a value on a player and if the player doesn’t agree to it, then they move on. That’s the Patriot-way—it’s the system that Belichick has built during his tenure with New England.
As of right now, it’s hard to get a feel on the contract situation between the two. However, I do like Mike Reiss’ idea of a two-year, $16 million deal—but I’m not too sure that Welker and his agent would take it.
Look for the likes of Tavon Austin from West Virginia or Connor Vernon from Duke in the 2013 NFL Draft as potential replacements for Welker if a deal falls through.