Relax all you fans of the Patriots, Wes Welker will still be catching balls from Tom Brady. Contrary to all the buzz on Twitter and Facebook, as well as a bunch of podcasts and interviews, you will still see number 83 lining up on Sundays next to Gronk and Hernandez.
I know his agent has stated that Welker will not re-sign with New England without testing the free agent market, that’s a bit of a negotiating ploy as well as just good business sense. Would you sign a contract with your employer if you felt other companies would offer more? I would hope you would at least go for the interview to listen, even if your heart was still in your current job. This is Welker’s last shot at a big multi-year contract so I am sure his agent will be
plugging his numbers to anyone that will listen. Here’s the problems that they face in this scenario: ( I might get blasted by Welker fans for the following so I apologize now if my opinions hurt your feelings.)
First- Wes Welker’s success comes from the type of offense that the Patriots use more so than his athletic ability. I am certainly not saying that he is a poor, out of shape has been; but really, do you think he would have had three consecutive 100 plus reception seasons playing on 98% of the other teams? The Patriots offense is geared around Tom Brady and what he does best, that being quick counts and short dump offs to any number of targets. There is no single dominant receiver in the Patriot offense and that is why it is so successful. Take for instance the Gronkowski injury of last year. Here we have a TE who had one of, if not the best season that a TE has ever had. His injury would have crippled some other teams but not New England, next guy steps in and the offense continues to prosper. Let’s just say that Welker needs the Patriots more than the Patriots need Welker.
Second- There are numerous free agent wide receivers this off-season that would absolutely love a shot at a title with the Patriots, not least of which is Julian Edelman, his current Patriot teammate. Edelman played on only 24% of the offensive plays but does know the offense well. He likely would be in line to snap up a bunch of Welker opportunities should he return and Welker leave. Other unrestricted free agents available to the Patriots if need be are: Mike Wallace, Danny Amendola and Greg Jennings, all of whom will be looking for roughly the same money as Welker. The next tier has Brian Hartline, Josh Cribbs, Randy Moss,Braylon Edwards and Brandon Gibson. This group has a lot of talent and in the right system,(see first problem above) could flourish. Furthermore, this lot could be had for about 40% of what Welker will be demanding. Knowing what I know about the Patriots and their outlook for this year, they will be addressing the defensive side of the ball more so than the offensive side. Supply and Demand is alive and well this off-season much to Welker’s chagrin.
Third- Wes Welker has a heart. He cares about what others think of him. In this day and age, there are players who are not “all about the Benjamins.” Wes Welker is one of those guys. Sure he would like to snatch up a huge payday like a ten yard bullet pass from Brady, who wouldn’t? But there are other intangibles that are to be considered, namely will he have as much success on any other team? I don’t see that happening, so does he swap fame for fortune? I say he doesn’t. Staying on the Patriots, where his comfort level is off the charts, for a few more years will do nothing but cement his legacy as one of the best wide receivers of his generation,and possibly write his ticket to Canton and the Hall of Fame. If he leaves, he starts over with a new QB, a new offense, new coaches etc. This may allow him to leave a bigger tip at the local restaurant or perhaps fatten up his retirement accounts a bit more, but at what cost? His personal success will almost certainly suffer. His numbers over the next four or five years will be much lower than if he stayed, so much so that instead of fans being able to hear his Hall of Fame speech they will be saying, Wes Welker? Wasn’t he the guy that was really good on the Patriots and then stunk when he left in 2013. Man, he should have stayed with Brady, he would have had a couple more rings, and he would have been a sure-fire Hall of Famer. What an idiot that guy was for leaving, he had it made there.
Wes Welker cares about his legacy. He doesn’t want to hear that crap about being money hungry or greedy. He already knows there isn’t a better situation on any other team for him, so why leave? The money? Nah, that’s not his style. I say he follows Brady’s lead, takes a contract that doesn’t pay him top dollar, but is in the ballpark, and lets the Patriots use the remaining cap space for one or more of the defensive pieces needed for their championship run. I say he stays until Brady is done, and both of them leave together, and both end up in Canton together, maybe even introducing each other at the podium. That’s the way it should be. That is what is meant to be. Better yet, maybe Giselle can introduce both of them, I can picture it now…” Here is my husband Tom Brady. He was the greatest QB ever. Period.” Then she could say, “And here is Wes Welker, he caught the balls that Tom threw to him, he caught them all, except that one in the Super Bowl, catch the f***ing ball!” Or something like that…..Yea, I can see it now.