Posted September 16, 2012

Wes Welker benched for Julian Edelman to start Week 2

New England Patriots

The Patriots appear to be preparing for life after Wes Welker early this season. (Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)

Are the Patriots already preparing for life without Wes Welker? That was the buzz around Foxborough after Welker, awaiting a new contract to replace the franchise tag tender he reluctantly signed this offseason, made just three catches in New England’s Week 1 win and split time with Julian Edelman.

That topic figures to be front and center again after this week, too. When the Patriots took the field for the first time on Sunday, it was Edelman and not Welker lined up in the slot against the Cardinals.

New England’s opening possession lasted all of one play, with Tom Brady throwing in interception, but Edelman again took the field while Welker stood on the sideline after the Patriots got the ball back. Welker finally made his way onto the field late in the first quarter after tight end Aaron Hernandez limped off with an injury, sending the Patriots into a three-receiver set.

Brady said earlier this week that Welker is a “huge part of this offense” and “there are going to be games where Wes has not as many opportunities, and there are going to be games where he has a ton of opportunities.” Given that it’s Week 2, Brady probably has a point, but keeping a healthy Welker off the field early sure appears to be a statement move by Bill Belichick.

Welker has 554 catches over the past five seasons and led the league in receptions three times during that stretch; Edelman has 49 career catches and entered Sunday with 12 catches since 2010.

Edelman is also set to be a free agent after this season — though he’s earning about $615K this season, compared to the $9.5 million Welker is taking home.

Are the Patriots just mixing things up and/or saving Welker for later in the season? Or is this a purposeful move by Belichick to reduce Welker’s value and prep his team for a future without their reliable receiver?

Either way, it’s a development to keep an eye on.

Update: Welker finished the first half with one grab for 25 yards — his lone reception came just after the two-minute warning in the second quarter. But with Hernandez out, Welker saw more looks after the break and finished with five catches for 95 yards, the latter being a team-high number. Edelman also made five catches, resulting in 50 yards.

8 comments
AndyE
AndyE

I speak for all for all of the patriot haters when i say HEELLLLL YYEEAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

geeon1
geeon1

Jets would be happy to take him.

Jean
Jean

send him to denver!!!!!!!!!!!!

DJL329
DJL329

If Belicheat wants to shoot himself in the foot, then by all means... ;)

childress.stephen1
childress.stephen1

It doesn't matter whether Welker plays or not.  The way the Patriots looked against the Cards, they won't be getting close enough to the Super Bowl to smell the roses.   Pathetic, really, and sub-par effort.

nosoma
nosoma

Hey Robert Kraft, The Fans want to see the Patriots winning it all this year. If the Very Offensive Coordinator continues to promote Brandon as his #1 receiver then the Patriots will not be winning the easy games let alone any championships. Go with Welker and Gronk, not long bombs to either but go with their proven strengths, and build on the proven success stories of the past few years. Preseason is over so stop practicing  during games. Until Brandon proves extremely reliable at practice he should only get a couple shots during the games. Playcalling really stunk up the field today.

nosoma
nosoma

The Offensive coordinator is The Problem which caused the Patriots to lose to the Cardinals today. He is trying to create his friend Brandon  as the premier reciever at the expense of the Patriots as a Team. Bellichek better put him in check or this season will go down the toilet. Welker and Gronk were not used to their strengths after proveing themselves repeatedly over the last few years and this cost the Patriots the win against a weak Cardinals team. The tryouts should have been done during preseason and kept on the practice field until Brandon proves he can keep up with Brady and the Patriots offence. Wake Up Bellichek and get your offensive coordinator in order with the proven talent on your Offence.

StephenWC
StephenWC

Yeah, benched Welker, how'd that go for the Pats so far?

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