Wes Welker and the New England Patriots are involved in a classic game of chicken, and it may not end well for Tom Brady. When Brady restructured his contract a few weeks ago to give the team more cap space, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that bringing back Welker would be New England’s top priority. On the second day of free agency, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
According to the NFL Network’s Albert Breer, the Patriots’ offer to Welker came in “substantially lower” than his camp expected and he is strongly considering leaving New England. That report coincides with a similar one from Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald on Monday morning, who reported that the two sides are nowhere close to coming to a deal and have “moved on.”
Could this all be just a smokescreen? Is it possible that Welker is going to find there are not many teams who value him as much as the Patriots do and his market is not all that large? Both are possibilities, but none of this sounds like good news for Patriots fans or Brady. The important thing to note is that all of this is merely speculation. Things can change in a hurry during the free agency period, and no one knows what Welker is thinking or if he has had any dialogue with the Patriots.
What makes the situation so alarming is that New England really doesn’t have a replacement for Welker. They are reportedly interested in Josh Cribbs, but he is more of a special-teamer and hardly the same caliber player Welker is. Danny Amendola is also an option, but his health has been a major concern. Aside from Welker’s ACL injury that barely caused him to miss any time, he has been one of the most durable players in the league.
Common sense would tell you that the Patriots need Welker back. Brady will turn 36 before the 2013 season begins, and it’s not easy for a quarterback who is this far into his career to establish chemistry with a new corps of receivers. Considering Welker has caught more than 100 balls for five straight seasons, it would be almost impossible for any player to come in and match his production.
From a legacy standpoint, Welker is probably best off remaining in New England. He has become a tremendous player, but much of his success stems from the fact that he and Brady are the perfect combination — both mentally and physically. That being said, the Patriots have been known to alienate their veteran free agents with an unwillingness to pay them what they feel they deserve. Very few would be surprised if that winds up being the case with Welker.Google+