New England Patriots WR Wes Welker was unhappy this Spring when the franchise slapped the franchise tag on him. Welker eventually succumbed to the tag and signed his tender offer this week. Now, Welker is unhappy with the club once again over the current state of contract talks with the Patriots.
Welker, speaking on the current status of his contract talks with the club, told the Boston Globe, “There have been talks, but nothing that’s brightened anything at all. It’s actually getting worse.” The Patriots are a team which likes to keep their dirty laundry in house and he might be doing himself a great disservice by going public in this manner.
The Globe opines that Welker lost any leverage regarding his desire for a new contract by signing the tender offer. However, I don’t think he was ever in the position of having much leverage to begin with. Bill Belichick never places one player above the team, except when it comes to QB Tom Brady. The Patriots seemingly move one player out and replace him with another while continuing to fire on all cylinders.
Welker’s production is unquestioned on the field, but the Patriots have 11 other receivers on the roster. Welker is a 31-year old slot receiver which is two years removed from an ACL injury. The Patriots added Jabbar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd this offseason. Julain Edelman can be groomed to play the slot position and if Anthony Gonzalez can return to his pre-injury form, he could contribute as well.
The biggest factor in why Welker likely won’t receive the offer he thinks he should get is because the Patriots offense has been evolving with the introduction of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. New England also added Daniel Fells in the offseason. The potential for outrageous offensive production is very high on this roster, with or even without Welker.
Welker’s success on the field has likely been more influenced by playing in the Patriots offense than being a superstar player. Yes, he has recorded over 100 receptions in four of the last five seasons, but would he have ever approached those kinds of numbers playing in any other offense? Welker and the Patriots offense is a perfect fit. Welker should simply allow a potential long-term deal play out rather than airing his displeasure publicly. No player in New England is irreplaceable, except Tom Brady.