It's a really weird time to be a New England Patriots fan. I don't think I need to go into why it's weird. People are pretty pissed, and it's very understandable. However, now that we've slept on it, let's look through the evidence and try to answer the question: Where do the Patriots go from here?
Let's talk Wes Welker. Before you jump on me, I was willing to give Welker $9mil a year for 3 years. He's gone to the Denver Broncos for $6mil a year, and the Patriots offered $5mil a year. Welker has been a great asset for the Pats, 100 catches, 1,000 yards guaranteed, and as good a receiver you'll see on 3rd down. And he always put his best foot forward. So why don't you stump up an extra $4mil for that, especially as it keeps Tom Brady happy?
Well, they simply didn't want him anymore. The relationship between Welker and the Patriots has been fractured for a while now. I wrote a week ago a list of 5 players the Patriots won't sign, and Welker was on that list, and here's what I wrote...
Sorry folks, as much as I hate to say it, I don't think #83's coming back. I think too much has happened for it to work out, especially with the news coming out that Welker's going to test the market. With the franchise tag last year and the Julian Edelman experiment at the beginning of the season, I think the teams differ too much on what Welker's worth, and as much as I think they both want to stay, the relationship has just broken down, and Welker will move onto another contender in the NFL.
Well, I think I got it right. The Patriots think he's done, so offered very little. The Broncos offered more, and Welker's on his way to another contender. But the names Randy Moss and Deion Branch come to mind. They thought Moss was done, they traded him, Patriots fans weren't pleased, but the Pats were right. Branch left in 2006 after holding out after not liking the Patriots offer, coming off a 998 yard season. He went to the Seattle Seahawks for a 1st round pick. He did nothing, and came back a few years later for a 4th round pick.
So as much as I think we should've paid Welker more than even the Broncos offered, I don't mind too much that we've let him go, there's thinking behind it, and we've moved on before, we'll do it again.
Now Danny Amendola coming in for him? I'm not too sure. But I think he's part of a bigger plan. We're not just gonna say "Hey Danny, go be Wes Welker." Because based on what he's done so far, he can't do it. I think he can be a capable slot receiver, who'll be good in the screen game. 700 yards would be good. But I think some people are forgetting about another guy we have on offense... Big guy, likes to party... Oh, Rob Gronkowski.
An amazing 2011 season, followed by a great 2012 ended by a broken arm. This guy's role in the offense will definitely step up now Welker is gone. And he can do it. Gronk can be shifted into the slot to pick up 3rd downs like Welker did, he can also pick up 30 yard gains. We all know what Gronk brings, and he's good for consistent 1,000 yard seasons, just like Welker. So we're fine there. We've also got Aaron Hernandez, who is good for screens as well, catching out of the backfield, being a slot receiver part time, and just doing what regular Tight Ends do.
Believe me, the offense is not the issue at the New England Patriots. The offense will always be good as long as Tom Brady is there, with serviceable receivers. Gronk and Hernandez are more than serviceable. The teams main concern is defense. Remember that lot that couldn't stop the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars to name 2. Not signing Welker gives us more room to sign Aqib Talib (remember him?), some pass rushing help and some secondary help. That's where we need the help, that's where the money should be going.
So let's not worry too much about Welker leaving. In Bill We Trust etc. Everything will be fine on offense without Welker: We've got Brady, and I don't think we're done in Free Agency for Wide Receivers. Keep calm and carry on Pats fans. Let's stick it to Welker when he comes back to Gillette next season.
Let me know your thoughts - Comment below or Tweet me @BrendanAnnely