Contract negotiations between Wes Welker and the New England Patriots have gone to opposite sides of the spectrum and everywhere in between in a matter of days. I have ridden the Welker Contract Roller Coaster now for two off-seasons in a row, and I have spent hours wondering about his future.
I live and think like someone living in the modern Western world, so I think in terms of either/or because that is the thought process we have been raised to think in. We simply do not like gray areas, we frown upon being lukewarm. Therefore, I waffle from being extremely pro-Welker to vehemently against signing Welker (those who read what I have written in the past month are nodding their heads).
After all of the endless pondering I have reached a conclusion, if the Patriots do not sign Wes Welker then it will be a disaster for everyone involved and the blame lies completely on the Patriots.
The Patriots relationship with Welker is mutually beneficial, there is no way around that. The Patriots are better with Welker and Welker is better with Tom Brady and the Patriots offensive scheme. The (literal) million dollar question is, when does paying Welker x amount of dollars diminish the Patriots ability to sign other players to such a great extent that it is no longer worth signing the only man with five seasons of 110+ receptions with NO SIGNS of slowing down? The pay day that Welker wants must be huge if the Patriots are willing to part with him.
Here are some notable achievements that Welker has attained wearing #83 for the New England Patriots:
(Mentioned this one above) ONLY receiver in NFL History with five seasons of 110+ receptions, fastest receiver to get 500 catches with one team, most 10+ reception games (tied with Marvin Harrison), and he holds the Patriots record for most receptions, receptions yards, and reception yards per game.
There is a trend here... Wes Welker is the most consistent wide receiver in the NFL, and perhaps in the history of the NFL. Tom Brady attempted 637 throws last season, and 174 were thrown at Welker who was basically benched the first two games of the season.
For the math whizzes, or those with calculators in the near vicinity, that means Brady throws 27.3% of his passes to Welker. How many times have you heard Welker referred to as "Brady's Security Blanket?" It is because Welker catches a quarter of Brady's total passes! Two questions to think about: why would you take that away from Brady? How much better will Welker be if the Patriots sign a down field receiver that spreads the field? When Brady was discussing his contract restructuring, it is pretty much safe to say that Brady had Welker in mind when he signed on to add to the Patriots CAP Room for the next five years. Those aforementioned facts are why not signing Welker would be an absolute disaster for the Patriots, because you would lose the most consistent wide receiver in NFL history.
The Patriots need Wes Welker because he is the second biggest cog in the proverbial watch that is the New England offense; similarly, Wes Welker needs the New England Patriots if he wants to maximize his potential as a player and if he ever wants to win a Super Bowl.
The only team that could provide anything close to that is the Denver Broncos. However, they also may not give Welker the free-will to run all of the option routes he is so in love with, something the Patriots allow him to run. I
n addition, you cannot fail to mention the intangibles, like chemistry. Wes Welker is so good at finding the open spaces in the field (hence why the Patriots allow him to run option routes), and Brady is good at seeing them, and they trust each other so much that Welker catches over 110 balls a season from doing just that.
The chances of Welker finding a team that will contend, let him run option routes, and has a quarterback of Tom Brady's caliber is basically 0%. The Patriots may need Wes, but he needs them just the same.
This brings me to my final point. If the Patriots allow this to go on to Tuesday when the Free Agency opens and Wes gets to see the overwhelming amounts of money that teams will offer him, they are completely to blame.
As many of you remember, the Welker contract negotiations last year were very public. Welker constantly tweeting about how he wants his big pay day, the Patriots constantly ignoring him, and finally they slap the franchise tag on him and Welker reluctantly accepts.
After that moment, Wes was the great little foot soldier that he spoke of prior to the Jets divisional playoff game in 2010. He sat on the bench behind Julian Edelman the first two games of the season and many, including myself, speculated a trade on the way (or at least the beginning of a diminished role for Welker).
Well he shut me up and recorded another incredible season. So this off-season starts and the saga begins again. The Patriots now have dissed him enough that he does not want to take a "hometown discount." You know what? I do not blame him for a second! He proved his worth to the team OVER AND OVER, and the organization has delayed his pay day by franchise tagging him, and now they can blame his age for them not wanting to pay top dollar.
It is a travesty that the negotiations have gone this far, and I will be ashamed of the organization if they allow Wes Welker to walk away from his time in New England not feeling appreciated. I appreciate you Wes, and I want you back.