Washington State’s Marquess Wilson is among the most productive receivers in college football. (Photo: US Presswire)
NEPD Staff Writer: Matthew Jones
The New England Patriots’ complicated contract negotiations with franchise player Wes Welker were among the organization’s most frequently-discussed storylines this offseason, and despite Welker’s decision to sign the franchise tender before the beginning of the regular season, the wide receiver’s future in New England remains as unclear as ever.
Welker has been on the field for just 105 of New England’s 149 offensive snaps (70.5%) after lining up on 1,211 of the Patriots’ 1,362 snaps last season (88.9%), including the playoffs. Welker’s reduced role with the club has been complimented by Julian Edelman’s increasing presence; Edelman participated in just 120 snaps last season but has already seen 98 snaps in 2012. Edelman was also on the field to begin the game against Arizona in Welker’s place; the 26-year old ultimately played in 75 of the Patriots’ 82 snaps in week two.
These factors have encouraged speculation that Welker’s role in the office is diminishing, that 2012 will be his last season in New England, and even that the Patriots have been scaling back his responsibilities in advance of a trade before the NFL’s October 30th deadline.
New England had been linked with wide receiver prospects even prior to the beginning of the regular season, and should a divorce occur between the Patriots and Welker, addressing the position will appear even more necessary. One intriguing prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft is Washington State Cougars split end Marquess Wilson.