Posted March 06, 2013

Wes Welker may test the free-agent market … and why shouldn’t he?

New England Patriots
Will Tom Brady have  his go-to target, Wes Welker, in tow when the 2013 season rolls around? (Stephan Savoia/AP)

Will Tom Brady have his go-to target, Wes Welker, in tow when the 2013 season rolls around? (Stephan Savoia/AP)

The buzz about Wes Welker’s approaching free agency seems to change by the hour, but the latest update from multiple outlets is this: Welker is prepared to talk with other franchises.

The Boston Herald‘s Jeff Howe tweeted late Tuesday that there is “nothing imminent” between Welker and the Patriots, then ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday morning that Welker “has no plans to re-sign with the team before first testing the free-agent market.”

And, quite frankly, Welker should go dip his toe in the water. Why wouldn’t he at this point? The Patriots have been playing contract chicken with their six-time leading receiver for more than a year now, with Welker consistently hinting that he’d like a long-term deal.

The Patriots, thus far, have balked at those requests, convinced that Welker’s set his price tag above market value.

They may be correct there — Welker has turned himself into a star in New England, but would he be able to replicate his success elsewhere, without the benefit of the Patriots’ offensive scheme and Tom Brady throwing him passes? If Welker can find one team convinced that he can, the Patriots might wind up regretting their hardline stance.

At the very least, if New England refuses to cave to Welker’s demands, the diminutive slot receiver deserves to see what’s out there. No player in the NFL has more catches than Welker since 2007 (672), and that total is greater than any receiver has ever put up over a six-year span.

Again, Brady and the Patriots deserve a lot of the credit there. But not so much that Welker should feel obligated to stay.

Welker played last season on the franchise tag, and it looked for awhile — as Welker somehow opened the regular season playing behind Julian Edelman — that New England was making plans to move on without him in 2013. Welker broke up those plans with four consecutive 100-yard receiving games, starting in Week 3, as he again fell into his role as Brady’s old reliable.

“Everybody knows how I feel about Wes, our whole team feels that way about Wes,” Brady told the “Dennis and Callahan” radio show in January. “He’s just one of the best players I’ve played with and played against. He’s just a phenomenal player, and he’s been the heart and soul of what our team is all about. He’s been so selfless, and the way that he carries himself and commits himself to help our team win, it’s second-to-none.

“But like I said, those aren’t my decisions.”

Brady did his part, restructuring his deal to clear about $15 million off the Patriots’ salary cap for the next two seasons. That move left New England with an estimated $25 million to spend under the cap for next season — leaving plenty of room to give Welker a comfortable deal and still upgrade elsewhere.

So, what exactly is Welker’s value?

Dwayne Bowe just re-upped in Kansas City for a little more than $11 million per year, about in line with what Vincent Jackson received in free agency last season.

But those players are prototypical No. 1 receivers, capable of producing just about anywhere. Welker, on the other hand, is a slot guy, who needs a perfect offensive fit. Something like $8 million per year, then, makes more sense (Welker made $9.515 million last season on the franchise tag).

Would Welker accept a multi-year deal with an $8 million yearly average? More importantly, is that even too far north for New England?

Either way, there’s no reason just yet for Welker to settle and re-sign for less than what he wants. He may not find a Bowe-like deal in free agency, but, if nothing else, Welker has earned the right to take a look around.

42 comments
balo030869
balo030869

Who wants to play for a CLASSLESS TEAM LIKE THE CHEATRIOTS, WITH A CLASSLESS COACH AND A CLASSLESS QB?  HE MUST HIT THE OPEN MARKET

Dondada
Dondada

The evil empire strikes again.  Belichek to Wes:  "Take a pay cut or we will cut you....you are not worth a #1 because you are a slot guy....nobody will pay you #1 money....no QB will make you look good like Brady does....so take the money and shut up and play like the good Patriot you are".   

supergolfdude
supergolfdude

This certainly doesn't bode well for Pats fans.

JasonMorrisRVA
JasonMorrisRVA

Maybe Welker will sign with another team because he wants to finally win a ring.

JackWilliams
JackWilliams

Because the Jets can't beat the Pats on the field, it figgers that the Jets would love to snatch Welker from the Pats just for the headlines. Tebow-to-Welker is just what the Big Apple media would love. But the Jets can't afford Welker in their caphell situation...still a good headline fantasy for Woody Johnson's miserable management.

Reedster2185
Reedster2185

Welker would not do well anywhere else, adn at best, would be average. The only reason he had the success he has had with NE, is due to their offensive strategy (which in itself, is offensive). Welker catches a lot of his passes behind the line of scrimmage (manly -yes?) and a long pass to him is 5 yds on almost illegal picks/slant plays. Put him on another team and have him run real routes, and you will see him, covered like glue, by the corners. I say, keep him on the Pats, let them continue to run their little girl game plan (which has not served them well, with respect to SB victories, since 2005). Him and Brady deserve to go out in mediocrity

rico
rico

He is 31, let him test the market.  Ravens did it with Ray Lewis. 

beast
beast

While Im sure the Pats love Wes, he dropped 1 pass that lost the Pats the SuperBowl and another that stopped them from going. 

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

The problem talking about the duo of Brady/Welker is that it's actually a triangle, with Belichick at the third point. And he may decide to cut Welker just because he can. It certainly wouldn't be the first time. The statement, '...if New England refuses to cave to Welker’s demands...' gives it all away. New England always refuses to cave to demands. Belichick may let Welker go just because he has the nerve to look around.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

Time for the Patriots to move on. Welker has had crucial drops in the playoffs the past two seasons. The only other situation than the Patriots where he might thrive is Denver. More than $15 million over two years is too much for Welker.

buckybone
buckybone

If only Ted Thompson ever signed free agents...

Whatever
Whatever

What a silly statement that a lot of Welker's success is because of Brady and NE's offense. Duh. But Jerry Rice would not have had the career he did if he had Jamarcus Russell as his QB, and Calvin Johnson wouldn't be Megatron without Detroit falling behind in every game and Matt Stafford just throwing it up to him 50 times a game. Walter Payton wouldn't have rushed for so many yards if he had Dan Marino for a QB either.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

Vincent Jackson caught fewer passes than Welker, accounted for fewer first downs than Welker and had only 30 yards and 2 TDs more than Welker.  Pretty comparable, no matter who is a "prototypical" receiver.

 

Dwayne Bowe caught exactly half as many passes as Welker (59) for 553 fewer yards, 3 fewer TDs and 39 fewer first downs.  KC rewarded him with $11M per year .... why should the Far More Productive Welker settle for $3M less??

RichLab12
RichLab12

Yeah Pats fans, I'm sure the great Tom Brady is the only one who can connect with Wes Welker.  Like Matt Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, to name a few, would have no clue how to get him the ball.

 

Three years $27 million with most of it guaranteed.  He'll resign with New England.  That's the least they can do after he came back from major knee surgery without missing a snap.   

OwG
OwG

Testing the FA market will cost him millions if that what he decides to do. No other team is going to pay Welker as much as NE would. Testing the market would just reveal his real value - which probably wouldnt  half of what he is reportedly asking. He is better off letting NE pay whatever they are willing to pay him than going out and testing the market. 

JonathanWoyke
JonathanWoyke

Hmm I like Welker, hes been great for our offense. But if this comes down to money, then thats kind of disapointing. I see that he wants to be paid what he feels he is worth, but dude isnt getting younger, he is only marginally as valuable without Tom Brady passing to him, and i mean damn look at Brady, he is arguably the current best QB playing and took a paycut to help his team win. Welker should just take a page out of that book and work on whats good for him AND the Pats. Hope to see him in NE next year and hope they work something out.

MRMc
MRMc

It will be difficult for him to find a team that he will get 100+ catches on./ A team may pay him 10 million to get him and into his brain about the Pats offense but he will not be getting the ops that he gets with Brady. He is a great guy I wish him luck but a 3 year 25 million deal is fair...

CharlieKelson
CharlieKelson

he can look around but it will be difficult to find another brady to throw to him , the chemistry with another qb wont be the same and he is getting older and more vulnerable to injuries due to the way he crosses the middle and takes some big hits.  he is a great receiver but some of the credit must go to the pats offensive scheme and the players around him, good luck wes and hopefully we will see you in a pats uniform this fall

Reedster2185
Reedster2185

 @balo030869Answer - Welker does. Why - Because he is classless too and fits right in with them

 

JackWilliams
JackWilliams

 @beast

 I wanna see a mud-wrestling event between Ana Burns Welker and Gisele Bundchen Brady blaming each others husband for poorly thrown/badly dropped critical passes in the postseason.

Johnson
Johnson

 @beast If you blame one player for one play - seems your sight is way too short. I still have not met a perfect player.

j7apple
j7apple

 @beast LOL always comes down to one of the people that gets a team to their successful point that everyone wants to blame. Without Wes they are not in that Superbowl or playing in the championship game.

OwG
OwG

 @Whatever 

Because he is... 

 

This is a poor analogy..Rice and Calvin Johnson are/where top shelf talents that will succeed in any offensive system. Welker is a niche player with a high football IQ that needs to be in the right system to be successful. He is good for the patriots spread hurry up offense and he takes advantage up the mismatches the system creates for him underneath. You cant put Welker on the outside (for example) and expect him to constantly beat NFL CB's. He isnt big, strong, or fast enough to do that. 

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

 @RobertSmith - Imitating other teams mistakes is not the way to win football games. The Chiefs are the definition of a dysfunctional organization.

DanAyd
DanAyd

 @RobertSmith Because Welker would likely have less value to most other teams...it's that value that dictates his ultimate contract price...and his greed/pride threshold. The article's pretty clear that his status as a slot guy will keep him off most teams #1 WR list, thus limiting his appeal/value. He's a unique fit at NE and should be happy to take what they offer because that offense, the coaching and Tom Brady made him the asset he is.

CharlieKelson
CharlieKelson

it would take a long time and lots of practice to get the chemistry brady and welker have, brady knows where welker is going to be at all times and welker knows brady will get him the ball where he can catch it and run, those may be good qbs but it would happen right away with them and welker,

hayhowesq
hayhowesq

 @JonathanWoyke

 Not sure why everyone thinks his unpredented performance over the last 6 years is the result of everyone else and not Welker. He is the best at what he does and is durable to boot. Edelman? Hernandez? Amendola? To replace Welker? Get back to me when they can stay on the field.

ArthurVandelay
ArthurVandelay

 @JonathanWoyke Welker is probably looking at the final contract of his career and wants to get paid, who can blame him?  Not only has he caught more passes than anybody else the past few years, he's probably also taken the most big hits.  He's going to be paying for all those hits for the next 40 years.

 

And saying Brady took a pay cut is not really accurate.  He basically signed a front-loaded extension, getting MORE money now in exchange for less later.  It is only a pay cut if he actually plays out his contract and does not renegotiate it.

Beth3
Beth3

 @JonathanWoyke  I'm with you.  I wish he'd be like Tom and continue to play with a winning team even it means earning less.

 

drac
drac

Hmm. I think Peyton Manning could manage to throw to him more than Brady. Welker would lookn good in Orange and Blue!

Reedster2185
Reedster2185

 @Robert27  @Reedster2185

 Skippy? that in itself is funny. I apologize for my freedom of speech right to place a post. Per my post, I apparently didn't realize that NE was a deep passing, vertical type offense, and that Welker was a deep pass threat type receiver - my bad. As for my posting comments, I will do it whenever I want. It is your choice to not read them. As far as that goes, I don't really care what you do.

neil89
neil89

 @OwG  @Whatever 

I am sorry OwG - are you telling me the guy throwing the ball doesn't count?

Jerry Rice with QB Mark Sanchez?  Jerry Rice with QB Peyton Manning? Huge difference!

You need a good team to bring out your potential talent.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

 @WilyCoyoteSuperGenius  @RobertSmith No disagreement here ... but the writer used Bowe as an example ... and Bowe is half the receiver Welker is ... statistically speaking.  If one believes that an appropriate formula for determining real value is .5*KC then Welker would command $8M.

dagglemonster
dagglemonster

 @DanAyd  @RobertSmith 

Im sorry - but "Something like $8 million per year, then, makes more sense" (posted in the article).  Makes more sense to whom? Him and his agent is about all.  Doesnt the fact that the rest of the country is in financial dire straits, deep cuts being made to medical research and education, ticket prices increasing to see these sportsmen (not to mention the price of beer) have any impact on these people?.

CharlieKelson
CharlieKelson

you are dreamiing, brady and welker have a chemistry that would be hard to follow. manning would look to welker the way brady does, always know where welker is going to be, takes a lot of time and practice to do that

DanAyd
DanAyd

 @drac That'd be a good fit I think. Working the slot under DT would work well for Wes. Another consideration would be my Vikings...can't throw more than 25 yards and if we manage to keep Harvin, we still need one more WR that can do quick routes and get open, plus have the speed for some real YAC.

busymom
busymom

You don't care?  Then why respond?

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

 @dagglemonster   Do you think if Wes Welker accepts Below Market wages that the money he leaves on the table will be refunded to the American Public to be reinvested in more minimum wage jobs at WalMart?  It will just go into some other player's pocket ... or into Robert Kraft's bank account.  Kraft has a net worth of $1.1B, so Welker could give leave him another $4M and make that $1.104B I suppose.  But if you think ticket prices are dropping if players accept Below Market wages then you are insane.