Posted February 18, 2013

Is Wes Welker done in New England?

New England Patriots, NFL Free Agency
Wes Welker has 110-plus receptions in five of his six seasons in New England. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Wes Welker has 110-plus receptions in five of his six seasons in New England. (Matt Slocum/AP)

A little more than a month ago, I wrote on here that the New England Patriots seemed to be coming to their senses and appeared ready to lock down receiver Wes Welker with a new contract.

Oops.

The situation has done a 180 since then, with a report out of Boston Monday that the Patriots will not use the franchise tag on Welker for a second straight season. So, unless Welker is re-offered and signs a deal similar to the two-year, $16 million deal he shot down in 2011, the talented slot receiver appears headed for free agency … and the Patriots will have to reconsider their approach on offense.

Welker has 672 catches over his six-season New England career — three times leading the league in receptions. He would come with a franchise tag hit of $11.4 million, though, if the Patriots chose that route, well above where the team apparently has tabbed his value.

New England has not even budged in the face of a potential total makeover at wide receiver. In addition to Welker’s status, Julian Edelman (essentially Welker’s backup in the slot in 2012), Deion Branch and Donte Stallworth all are pending unrestricted free agents. Brandon Lloyd also may wind up searching for work due to a $3 million option bonus the Patriots would owe him if he sticks.

That’s a total of 230 receptions from this past season set to walk out the door. The Patriots showed an unexpected commitment to the run in 2012, and of course return the incomparable tight end pair of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but a cut-and-run strategy at WR would leave them with work to do.

New England currently sits approximately $15 million under next year’s projected cap, too, making the decision to play it cheap at that position an even more interesting one.

Perhaps part of the thinking here comes from Welker’s own background — New England picked him up from Miami on the cheap, then he immediately hauled in 112 passes during his first season in Foxborough. The Patriots must feel that they can pull off that trick again, be it via free agency, another trade or in the draft.

Brady’s presence behind a stable offensive line (Sebastian Vollmer is set to be a free agent but, unlike Welker, the Patriots likely will make every effort to re-sign him), plus the Gronkowski-Hernandez duo leaves the Patriots with an extremely solid offensive base. Given those luxuries, any receiver dropped into the slot in New England’s offense would have a chance to excel.

But is there another Welker out there? The Patriots are gambling that the answer is yes, even if the easier course of action is to just pay up and keep Welker.

24 comments
Reedster2185
Reedster2185

They should let the short distance, quick slant, overrated Welker go and get some real younger, more versatile talent in his place. As for the Patriots reconsidering their approach on offense - Whole heartedly agree. Their little girl, 3 yd or less, pick/quick slant passing game has not gotten them anywhere in many years (not to mention, as a man, it is embarrasing to watch - including their little girl QB kicking people). As for the little girl QB, he is on the decline and will take them nowhere for what little time he has left. Complete re-structuring and reconsideration of the offense should be the Patriots top priority If they do not and keep their current offensive philosphy, they should consider playing in the lingerie league (although the girls might take offense to that and say the patriots are not masculine enough for their league).....

 

 

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Welker has dropped key passes in games that mattered

mjpt
mjpt

actually, when I took another read of this article, I cannot believe that the writer could have been so myopic when it came to Belichick, Patriots and emotion. They are actually the easiest read when one looks at the data and how they have moved previously. The one saving grace is the ACTUAL top end results (superbowls) that they are no longer getting. If they have not got these results with Welker in the locker room, does it not follow that they would move on and get alternatives to put them over the top. Welker gambled when he did not take the multi year deal. Thats the business I suppose, and if one takes a long term view, the Patriots are the standard but their percentages drop off quick when it comes to top end results. The metric for them is completely different from every other team, to the point where AFC championshp game could be considered a failure. That's a tough performance metric.

Chris B2
Chris B2

As much as I believe Welker is a product of Brady and the offense he is in, I would love to see the HAwks grab him. He would command enough attention to free up our other WR's. 

 

www.hawktawk12.com

mjpt
mjpt

welker thought he was better than he was and is. The system makes the patriots the patriots, and why Belichick has such indifference on personnel decision making. He's a value investor and welker is over priced. In a league where the margins for error are small, it has now become playmaker territory in the post season where the Patriots regularly end up but miss the big prize just as regular. Underneath routes work in season but not in the post where the physical defenses dine out. They need a deep threat to keep the secondary honest. Moss was that guy and they were  minutes away from the perfect season, no need to move from that philosophy-just make sure the capologist and talent evaluators are on the same page!!!

chopblock33
chopblock33

I think Welker has to take a long look at being as effective n the league without Brady..and..where else can he go where he's going to have a chance to make it back to the SB...Welker's a fool for not taking the "Hometown Discount"

bbc
bbc

Pats need a big receiver who's a threat downfield in the mode of Johnsons (Calvin or Andre), Fitzgerald, Boldin or Brandon Marshall. Without a deep threat Pats resort to a West Coast type offense which gets shut down by a physical defense. We have seen the same story repeated multiple times against Giants, 49ers, Ravens etc. Unless Pats get a deep WR threat keeping Welker won't make that much of a difference. Plus it doesn't help that Welker has propensity to drop catches at the most inopportune moments or that Gronk is mostly injured when it counts at business end of the season.

bbc
bbc

It would help if Pats could play defense. They need to get some pass rush ASAP and maybe some half-decent DBs. When a free agent pick in the middle of a season is your best DB (Talib), it says a lot about your defense.

Bill Wheeler
Bill Wheeler

I really think he'd look great in a Raiders uniform!

 

David508
David508

They are being arrogant again!!! One of these days they will make a fatal mistake and that will be the end of the Patriots being an "Elite Team" in the NFL. They have been lucky - One of these days Brady will come to the end of his reign and that will make them nothing but a regular arrogant team,

GordonSmith1
GordonSmith1

Let Welker go???  I thought only the Red Sox were capable of making such a monumental mistake!

BallRush
BallRush

The Pats WR's...  

 

1.  I'd keep Edelman and the price will be right.  He's valuable in the slot and as a punt returner.

2.  I'd ditch everyone else unless their price is reasonable.  Lloyd was a bust.. no YAC.

3.  Welker is perfect for Brady, but signing him at $10 million is just too much considering they don't have a good WR corps.  He had a great year, but it's not going to last forever and the real problem is that they don't have any other good WR's except Edelman, who won't achieve Welker numbers, but is one heck of a replacement.

 

In summary, here's the fix:

 

Start With:

Gronk

Hernandez

Edelman in slot

(those three are all dangerous)

 

Then:

Find two solid free agents for $8 million total that can spread the field

Use draft, roster and/or lower priced free agents to back-up

 

Wes - You'll get more money elsewhere, but how much money do you really need?  Take a two year deal for $12 million and finish your career on top with Brady.  That would be priceless.

okiecpa1948
okiecpa1948

Dumb butts!!  Doubt that Brady is too excited about this.

Azeron
Azeron

 @chopblock33 A fool?  Your heart verses his common sense.  Sure YOU don't mind him earning less money.  It's not YOUR brains getting beat in.

BallRush
BallRush

 @bbc 

You're all over it bbc..  right on.  Get a spread the field WR, put Edelman in slot, Gronk and Hernandez do what they do and Pats are in good shape. 

 

Interesting on Welker.  Misses that big 3rd down catch in last year's super bowl and this year he seems to have caught the dropsies.

chopblock33
chopblock33

 @Azeron This is the job he's chosen...He can go elsewhere and make a little more money and never get a sniff of the SB again, or remain here for the hometown discount and potential, have the chance to do it here with a group he's comfortable with. The fool reference was in regards to where he'd have the best chance of becoming "A Champion!"

 

bbc
bbc

If Welker makes those catches we wouldn't be discussing Welker's future here. At he end of the day if you can't make the difference for your team, you are not indispensable. If Gronk gets injured this year as well and sits out another post-season he will fall in the same category.

chopblock33
chopblock33

 @doghockey no..winning the AFC east does not a champion make..Tell me..other than going to Denver...where would he go in the AFC and even get close to goin to the SB? I could see him goin to seattle....to the 9er's....but why would he not want to get that ring!!!

doghockey
doghockey

 @chopblock33  Plenty of options outside Boston for a player to sniff the Super Bowl.   Or by "A Champion" did you mean the AFC East?