Wes Welker Contract Options

Wes Welker Patriots Jets

Is Wes Welker a long-term solution at receiver? (Photo: US Presswire)

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.

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42 Responses to “Wes Welker Contract Options”

  1. J.H TARBORO says:

    I have a feeling,that since Aaron Hernandez declared that he going to California in the offseason to train with Brady,he could be our new slot reciever. Remember 2007 the first year Brady recieved real weapons Welker,Moss,Stallworth. Every year since we have been a model of consistency, i remember the feelings we had when Moss left,it was doom&gloom,but we bounced back. Im saying this because as a pats fan,you hate to lose a good player like Welker. FEAR……can have you make snap judgement or do nothing! Its time for a new Patriot chapter.

  2. I have been a Pats fan since start in 1960 through good times and bad and now follow Pats from Florida. My FIRST choice is work out a deal and get Welker signed. Gronkowski and Hernandez work well because Welker takes the coverage from them. There isn’t a receiver in the draft I would take in the draft over Welker including Austin who is near the bottom of my list of receivers I would like in the draft.

    • AM says:

      Agreed on all counts. That being said, this is a deep draft for wideouts, and it is a good opportunity to get at least one complementary receiver.

  3. Andrey says:

    This is absurb for anyone being a patriots fan or a sports fan wanting to see Wes let go. He is the heart and soul of the patriot team who lives what being a great team player is all about.

    Here’s first reason why.. He shows up ALL THE TIME and plays.
    Gronkowski always dinged up. Hernandez in and out. Same with Lloyd and Edelman and other receivers just not consistent. The only consistency on patriots team is welker always producing while others have a good day here and there.

    I think if Belichick put his ego aside he would recognize it. What are they gonna so when pats offense is constantly rotating cause of injuries or just not producing as ochocinco and Lloyd couldn’t match their previous success and they don’t have the cornerstone in welker he always has been.

    Brady doesn’t look for welker. He looks for open receivers and when he can’t find them he gives it to welker. That should show how much he needs him
    I’f other were open they’d be getting the ball.

    I love the patriots and hope they bring back welker at any price. It’s the right thing to do. If not i sure hope they see the value in him when they’re struggling and welker flourishes wherever he goes…

    And for record welker isn’t good cause he is in New England. England offense is this great cuz he is there along with Brady. Remember that he was good enough in Miami that New England wanted him so bad

  4. td says:

    They could move on w/out him, but he is the most dependable guy they have bar none.
    Gronk keeps getting injured
    Hernandez constantly dinged up
    Lloyd can’t get open consistently
    Edleman still learning and now a free agent
    Branch done
    Stallworth done

    How can they offense depend on those other guys?

  5. J.H TARBORO says:

    Just in! the Viking want to trade Percy Harvin. It is getting interesting!!!

    • Joe Blake says:

      I recall the Pats really wanted to draft Harvin. We could use him now. I think he had a big issue with migraine headaches. (Not to mention driving the head coach at Minn. crazy). If the NFL widens the field, all the more reason to go after Percy.

  6. MaineMan says:

    Actually, I thought Welker was looking for THREE years and some percentage guaranteed rather than simply more than $8M per year. A three year, 7-8-9 deal doesn’t seem unreasonable for either side.

    If Welker wants more, I think the Pats probably already know whether or not a bigger offer for him is out there elsewhere, and they may even know which team(s) would be making such an offer. If that’s the case, they almost certainly wouldn’t let him simply walk. They’ll probably set up a Tag-and-Trade deal for a 2013 3rd-rounder (and maybe an additional late-rounder).

    Of course, guys like Bowe and Jennings aren’t going to be any cheaper than Welker and, historically, veteran FA WRs have succeeded with the Pats only at about the same rate as their WR draft picks. It’s under 40% either way, though most folks think that FAs are a better bet because of the six who’ve succeeded – forgetting about the 13 who face-planted, and that even the six who succeeded were pretty cheap, at least for their first years. So, it makes a lot more sense for the Pats to sign one of the “lesser” FA WRs (like those that TARBORO suggests above, or perhaps Dominek Hixon), AND pick up one or two draftees.

    WRT draftees, as many have noted, the Pats already have enough guys to form a pretty good “slot committee” to nearly replace Welker’s production between the numbers, so I think the Pats would actually be LESS likely to be looking at slot guy prospects and more likely to be looking at guys who can work the edges well (younger versions of Lloyd/Branch) and legitimately get deep once in awhile.

  7. J.H TARBORO says:

    Also, Brandon Lloyd can GO TOO!!! He doesn’t fit and is softer than a bag full of grapes.We need impact and toughness… He’s SOFT!!! COTTONELLE!

  8. J.H TARBORO says:

    If somehow our draft picks didn’t stay the same and we possibly trade out of the 1st round to pick up multiple picks in mid to late rounds, More late than early check out Minnesota QB/WR/TE/H Back Marqueis Gray a bigger,faster,stronger Julian Edleman with great upside and bigger playmaking potential. He fits what we do,can also run gadget plays,reverses,and a 3rd down option. Check him out,tell me some feedback.I like the feedback on this page,good depth of football knowledge, you look on other site,they could care less.

  9. James says:

    The “drops” are a little unfair. The Patriots shouldn’t putting the offensive load on their 5’9” slot receiver every playoff game. No other slot receiver could do what was has done in the playoffs. I think the blame for those drops should be on the other offensive guys not getting open.

    • AM says:

      Absolutely. If we’re going to talk about the two “costly drops,” we also need to talk about the dozens of spectacular catches. That’s even without considering the fact that one of those “drops” was on a poorly thrown pass; the only reason it is being considered a drop and not a misfire is that we’ve gotten used to seeing Welker make the outstanding catch.

    • munchkin says:

      Drops should be blamed on the person dropping the ball. Anything else makes no sense. You can argue that Brady shouldn’t have to rely on Wleker so much; that is debatable. However, if you are goint ot ask for top dollar you should be willing to accept the responsibility that comes with it. I haven’t seen Welker hide from his miscues.
      It is easy to focus on Welker’s shortcomings because he is always in the thick of the fray. Brady has not shined in the last two playoff losses either. The defense could certainly be better but the team’s best players are on the Offensive side of the ball.
      There is a lot of blame to go around including the coaching.
      I think Welker will end up somewhere else next season. The team has invested a lot of money in Gronk and Hernandez. Like it or not Lloyd will be back.

  10. Ray Foley says:

    I do believe that overuse has caused Welker’s concentration lapses, but 19 drops in a season is way over the top. It’s time to refocus this offense to include a true down the field threat. The payday that Welker is looking for will not be consistent with this refocusing so a parting of the ways seems inevitable.

    • AM says:

      The 19 drops is a meaningless stat without context. As a percentage of targets, it puts him middle-of-the-pack when it comes to leading receivers league-wide. That also doesn’t account for the fact that drops are fairly subjective (the Washington Post, for example, has him at a lower number than Pro Football Focus).

      • Ray Foley says:

        This is not a batting average stat. 19 drops are way too many for a guy who is looklng for top dollar

        • AM says:

          Can you explain why it is not “a batting average stat?” Welker’s drop percentage was around 8-9%, as an average of a number of sources. If he had dropped 15 balls instead, but his drop percentage was 15%, with correspondingly fewer receptions, would that somehow make him a more reliable receiver? What about if he had 30 drops, but caught 85% of his passes? What if he had no drops, but only caught 50 receptions on 150 targets?

          With respect, all statistics are relative.

  11. Nick says:

    Goodbye Welker.

  12. Joe Blake says:

    Lets not put 100% blame on Wes for the infamous 2 drops. West coast Tom shares some of it for pass location as does the coaching staff for overusing him: my guess is he gets his bell rung a lot out there without much of a breather between plays to get the buzz out of his head before the next critical, depend on Wes, play is called by the Josh/Tom combo. Unless the dollars restrict us (I’m no cap-ologist) I say we keep Welker. Hopefully we can restructure Brady, Wilfork, Mayo, and Mankins to get it done along with signing Volmer, Talib, & Ettleman. Management has wasted a lot of $s in other places, so I don’t know if we can pick up two more FAs & have three draft choices stick for 2013 to get us SB bound.

  13. jim says:

    Tag Welker this year and draft Michael Campanaro out of Wake Forest next year. He will be the Top Slot in next years draft and has the smarts, quikness, hands, toughness that a Slot requires…youtube this kid.

    • acm says:

      I would love Mike Camp with the Pats but I think tagging Welker would be too expensive and would actually like to see the team move on offensively.

    • J.H TARBORO says:

      Jim, I Youtubed Michael Compagnaro,seems like a tough kid with very good hands. could used for depth and PR/KR. Interesting!!

  14. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    The Two year deal seems about right for 16 mi., If I was Welker Why go to team like the Raiders? for more money? New England will be a play off- team as long as Brady is the QB, so why get greedy?
    I like WR Conner Vernon in this Draft, 3d-4th pick, as a slot guy, or go WR Quinton Patton,for more of a wide -out type WR. WR Hopkins is more versitile playing , slot or WR, but maybe gone when the Patriots pick. WR Edleman , should get a 3year deal, for about 14mil.

    • acm says:

      Even if Wes gets more money elsewhere, it would be dangerous to go to a team w/o a stability at the Qb position as his productivity will likely fall so sharply that it would no longer correspond to his big-money contract and may well end up getting cut in his 2nd season anyway. So, a 2-3 year offer by the Pats may well earn him more than some crazy 4-5 year 10+ mil deal at a team like the Raiders, for example.

      Either way, I would like to actually see the Pats cut ties with Wes as his connection with Brady has become the focus of the O to the point of becoming predictable and easy to stop by good Ds like the 49ers, Ravens, etc, etc. Plus he is already at the age where one should expect him to start slowing down and all those hit he’s taken over the years would start showing up too. I could already see him this last season lose a step or two in the later stages of games, especially as the season wound down towards the postseason.
      Personally I’d take Danny Amendola on a smaller contract but would not try to make him the focal point of the O like it is Welker – having go-to guys leads eventually to predictability, imo. Which is why I hope to see Wes’ throws be spread out to Amendola, Edelman, and the TEs as well as a new WR or two.
      If Lloyd is let go as he’d be due a lot more money this season compared to last and may no longer be seen as a bargain considering his decent but not great productivity. Patton would be a great and more versatile replacement for Lloyd, imo. Would love a deep-threat guy or a bigger target (Alexander from SD maybe or Rogers/Dobson from the draft) as a complement to Lloyd or Patton.
      The main point being that no-single WR should have to account for Wes’ productivity but it should be spread around instead.

      From the draft, as an alternative to Amendola, I’d say I like Swope better than vernon – has played vs better defenses, filled with NFL-level material – and seemed to get better as the opposition grew stronger. Would be a betetr value in the 4th than the 3rd but would prefer him to Vernon. Drafting any of these, however, would require some sort of a trade to get us picks in the 4th, 5th rounds.

      For 2014, somebody above mentioned Mike Campanaro as an alternative to Wes and would very much like to see that happen – bigger bodied WR yet just as elusive and dynamic as Wes in his younger days. So, maybe Amendola and Edelman to share the slot this year and postpone reinforcements from the draft for 2014 instead of going with Swope/Vernon in 2013? I can live with that.

      • AM says:

        “Unpredictability” is only a virtue if it is paired with exceptional execution. It would be nice if the team had two equally proficient top receivers, but the better way to solve that problem is to bring someone in to complement Welker, not to let him go. I understand that the salary cap is what it is (to borrow a phrase), but before writing off Welker so quickly, imagine what this team would have looked like with an average receiver in his place this year, and the staggered injuries to Gronkowski and Hernandez still happening as they did.

        • acm says:

          “Exceptional execution” is only a virtue if it is paired with unpredictability.
          I agree with you that the Pats whould have had another WR to take away from the focus of defenses on Welker but that’s in the past now – should have happened but it didn’t. The reality of the present is that if they do bring in such a WR, Wes’ role and productivity would diminish, and considering he’s already slowing down (easily noticeable towards the end of games and especially towards the end of the season), this would not match his contract demands.

          Gronkowski had a freak succession of injuries this yer. Too early to call it a patter just yet. same for Hernando. Time is on their side, however, and that can’t be said about Wes.
          The hits he’s been taking over the years will soon start to show so one has to consider the likely possibility of him no longer being as reliable too in the future.

        • AM says:

          I disagree with respect to execution versus unpredictability. Both this year’s Ravens and last year’s Giants (a painful subject, of course) won Super Bowls with relatively basic formulae, especially in the case of the Giants. To borrow yet another phrase, there is no defense for the perfect pass, something I remember every time I see Mario Manningham on the field.

          There is a distinct difference between being unpredictable and simply having a reliable second option. If the Patriots had a healthy Gronkowski last year (or this year, for that matter), that likely would have been made manifest.

        • acm says:

          you are free to disagree with it but that doesn’t mean you’d be right to. You have to understand that there is no such thing as exceptional execution on a regular basis – there may be a wonder pass in a given moment at any game (the Tyree catch) but when it comes to football at the highest level (read post season) balance (i.e. unpredictability) is what gives you the best chance for success on a regular basis.

          To put it in diff words, no matter how good the Brady-Welker connection may be, it’s predictability makes it relatively easy for top defenses to neutralize it and thus leave an unbalanced offense unsettled. You speak of exceptional execution but fail to recognize that is exactly what never happened in the game vs the Jets, Giants, Ravens, 49ers, etc. You fail to realize that the very predictability of the Brady-Welker connection leads to lack of exceptional execution vs top defenses in the post-season.

          You mentioned the Giants and Ravens winning with basic approach on O but fail to realize that it’s their basic approach i.e. lack of a focal figure of those offense that made them tough to predict and stop. That’s exactly where the predictability in the Pats O comes in – Welker is that focal point and andd go to guy, who top defense know if they stop, they’d win the game. Even with Grink there, Brady looking for Welker is predictable enough, with Gronk out, it’s suicidal. And please let’s not forget that the Pats went to last year’s SB beating the Ravens mostly due to a Raven WR not making a catch that begged to be made … if not for that, chances we’ll be talking about two losses vs the Ravens in a row now.

        • AM says:

          “Unpredictability,” or “balance,” is meaningless without talent. The Cardinals, for example, were quite balanced last year–they ran and passed the ball equally poorly. You are absolutely correct that exceptional execution does not happen on an automatic basis (I object to the use of the word “regular,” and disagree with that concept). However, execution is highly correlated with talent: without talent, scheme is all but pointless.

          Put another way: all else being equal, given the option between two mediocre receivers and one fantastic receiver with a mediocre counterpart, any team in the NFL would opt for the latter. In the first instance, either receiver may be the primary target, but neither is a threat due to their talent levels. In the second instance, the better receiver is likely to be the target, and will naturally draw the double-team, safety help, etc. Nonetheless, the better receiver has a better chance of getting open, and thus has the better chance of winning the battle on any given play. The same logic applies to a great receiver and a mediocre running back, or vice versa; likewise a great pass rush and a poor run defense, or vice versa. In the Patriots’s case, this heuristic translates to the following: if one agrees that Welker is an above-average receiver, then the team is better with Welker and Lloyd than with an average receiver and Lloyd. (I would challenge any contradiction of that statement as the work of a forum troll or a Jets fan, but perhaps I repeat myself.)

          If your assertion is that the team needs to do a better job of mixing up its playcalling so that other players can fit as the number one option, I agree, but it only works insofar as there is talent and health at the other spots; last year there were issues with both, neither of which falls on Welker or Brady. If your assertion is that it would be ideal to surround Brady with outstanding playmakers, any of whom could be a number one option on any given play on any given team, I don’t dispute that, but I’d also like a jetpack to shorten my morning commute. If your assertion is that it is better to surround Brady with lesser talents who are nonetheless evenly matched in order to keep the opposition guessing, then I think you are grossly underestimating the calibre of even the average NFL defense. Points, and wins, are difficult enough to get without dumbing down the talent level.

          Finally, drawing any conclusions from the Sterling Moore play is a borderline logical fallacy. To flip that on its head: if Mario Manningham doesn’t catch a long pass down the sidelines last year, Brady has four rings. If Asante Samuel makes an easy interception in 2007, Brady has five rings. And so on. There is no such thing as an easy play in the NFL.

      • patsdukie says:

        Conner Vernon gets a lot of flack for not playing against “elite” defenses, but consider this, since his junior year he has often been doubled up on by defenses and he has still put out great #s. Also, he is tough as nails. I’ve seen him take hits that would normally take a kid out of the game, but gets right on up. He is also very elusive with the ball and is great at getting a few extra yards out of every catch.

  15. J.H TARBORO says:

    Free Agency WRs that would not cost us money: NYG Ramses Barden MIN. Jerome Simpson CLE. Josh Crbbs SF Ted Ginn jr. key word value. A case for Jerome Simpson,he was a part of 2011 Bengals air show led by Andy Dalton. I felt bad for the kid who has amazing talent and verticles but MIN’s Christian Ponder couldn’t hit the side of barn. Wasted talent on a bad team.

  16. J.H TARBORO says:

    Goodbye Wes! First, i like to start by saying,i am a Tavon Austin advocate for months.For those who dont know who he is…research!!! Remember,we are replacing the slot receiver position.Also N.E signed Andre Holmes 6’4″ 224 and Jeremy Ebert 6’0 195, Kamar Aiken 6’2″ 213. We seem to have forgotten how we got to the first 3 Superbowls: Brady,1 lg.back,1 fullback 3 receivers that could catch that ball and you didn’t know their names.Why are we so worried if Wes leaves,at his age he should be chasing the money. Brady made him productive,not the other way around. Think about this, when you throw 115 completions to 1 receiver is that productive? or holding a team back that has a lot of weapons or mentally holding Brady back !!!

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      I agree, I think if Welker Leaves it opens the O up alot, Eldeman / Hernadez can play slot, and this guy Ebert will get more time. So drafting a WR for the outside is big, WR Quinton Patton looks good. Forget WR Wallace, or any free agent, to costly, compeared to draft choice contracts. Get young at the WR spot while Brady is here, when he is gone, you will have a good set of WR’s for the new guy at QB.

    • rob says:

      Well said sir. Fie years I said replace welker for whatever reason Brady always forces in the ball that tight situation. It’s truly limits Brady’s mentally

    • Billy C. says:

      Very few people have made the point you made. By having Brady always look for Welker he’s minimized his options in the passing game. It’s time to turn the page!

    • acm says:

      great point about a WR targeted so many times being the sign of a stagnant and predictable attack. Especially vs teams with premier defenses like the 49ers, Ravens, SB version of the Giants, etc.
      It’s an opinion we share even if it may not be a popular one among the Pats faithfuls 🙂

      Considering Wes’ age and contract demands and f-tagging him not being much of an option, I’d let him find his big contract – let’s face it, he deserves it – and move on. People are worried that there won’t be another WR who could match his productivity and they are probably right but that doesn’t have to be the case – we could redistribute it over several people and not just one new WR. That would likely open up the O as you yourself mentioned.

      • td says:

        Welker was tageted so much because:

        He’s almost always open,
        gronk & Hernandez could not stay on the field last year,
        that leaves….Branch, no; Stallworth, no; Lloyd maybe.
        He is Brady’s security blanket, especially when Defenses stack the middle of the field. He would have caught 150 balls last year if not for the re-emphasis on running the rock.

        • acm says:

          if not for the re-emphasis on running the rick the Pats may well not have made it to the title game even.
          I am sure Welker can make 200 catches but that would likely mean the Pats barely making the play-offs too due to being too predictable on offense.
          The Pats were stopped by the Ravens namely by filling up the middle of the field knowing very well Welker is the go to guy even if someone else is open. That’s the problem with having a focal point in your attack – the other team knows who they need to stop and take out of the game in order to win it.

          It’s one thing for someone to be your security blanket but another to over do it and that’s what the Pats have been doing with Welker.
          I wouldn’t mind Wes staying as long as his role on the team takes a step or two back to make it more balanced. The problem of the matter however is that his salary demands wouldn’t correspond to his slowing down with age and likely diminished role and productivity as part of a more balanced attack.

          Also, I am worried that for as long as Welker is around, the Pats are gonna continue with their “if in doubt, throw to Wes” approach and wouldn’t reconsider their philosophy on offense as long as he is still around. Sure, this approach works wonders for his stats but not so much for the team as whole.

          The Wes-Brady connection has been around for too long – it may still work vs the Jags and Philies of the NFL but teams with proper defenses already know the recipe for success vs these Pats. Time to be smart and move on.

    • AM says:

      By definition, 115 completions (or even 118) to one receiver is productive. The reason so many targets go to Welker is that he has the knack for making the plays–ditto with Gronkowski in the end zone. With respect, it is a truly bizarre argument to suggest that Welker’s ability to get open is somehow forcing Brady to throw it to him, and holding back the offense. If other options were open, Brady would throw the ball to them, and if Brady is somehow neglecting other options despite the fact that they are open, that fault lies with him.

      • J.H TARBORO says:

        AM, With all due respect, that comment isn’t out of line. If you look back at some of our games, you don’t see Tom double pumping his WO’s open,that was Tom PRE ’07 and he doesn’t go thru every progression,he has an idea of where it going to in the first place.Wes is productive and with new head coaches and new offenses, many teams are going to want him. I think it’s time for mental divorce!!!

        • AM says:

          Phrased that way, I agree with your assertion–even if you have Calvin Johnson, zeroing in on a single receiver to the exclusion of all else is a dangerous proposition. I’m not sure that I agree with the major premise, however: while there have been many occasions where Brady has forced the ball towards Welker, I think that is more a function of the other receivers not being open, not a failure to go through reads and progressions.

          Either way, if your position is that Brady is, essentially, being sloppy and/or lazy because of Welker’s presence, and that the best way to remedy that is to remove Welker from the occasion, I can understand that–I respectfully disagree, but I get where you’re coming from. Personally, I think that the better resolution is either A) a better complementary receiver than Lloyd, and B) coaching adjustments that break the habit.

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