NEPD Staff Writer: Dan Hope
It isn’t hard to see how important wide receiver Wes Welker has been to the New England Patriots since joining the team in 2007.
Welker has been among the NFL’s top two in receptions in four of the past five seasons, and has been among the league’s top two in receiving yards for two of the past three. In the process, he has redefined the slot receiver position, advancing the role from a tertiary option to the primary weapon in the Patriots offense.
Welker, however, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2012 season. The Patriots used the franchise tag to keep Welker in New England for this season, but if they want to keep him beyond this season, they are going to have to be ready to pay up.
The Patriots may be best suited in saving money by letting Welker sign elsewhere, and instead use a portion of the money they save to re-sign their other slot receiver, Julian Edelman, who will also be an unrestricted free agent.