Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 2/16/13

Wes Welker will be going into a negotiations battle with the New England Patriots soon. Luckily, he has two of the greatest wide receivers in league history in his corner. Hall of Famer Michael Irvin and self-proclaimed “best ever” Randy Moss both think Welker should suit up in a Patriots uniform for 2013 and beyond. The two come from two different ends of the loyalty spectrum. Irvin was lucky enough play his whole career for Dallas, while the 49ers were Moss’ fifth team (and he played for Minnesota twice). “Absolutely, absolutely crazy,” Irvin told the Boston Herald when asked if New England would be crazy to let Welker walk. “But I also think Wes would be crazy leaving the Patriots. What you need is a great coach that says, ‘I recognize your skill set. Let me make sure I ask you to do what you do best.’ That’s what Wes does. That’s what New England does with Wes. That’s why it’s a perfect fit.” The Patriots used the franchise tag on Welker in 2012. Using the exemption cost the team $9.5 million. They are unlikely to use the tag on Welker again. It would be tough to replace the production — and durability — that Welker has offered since 2007, though. He’s caught 672 passes in his six years with New England, and he’s missed just three regular season games. Moss remembers his 3 1/2 years with the small, shifty Texas Tech product fondly. “It was a great combination because of what we were able to do to benefit from one another,” Moss said. “He’s the wide receiver that you need for your dirty work. … He takes the hits across the middle. He takes the short routes and takes them 20, 30, 40 yards for the first down or maybe the touchdown. You can really appreciate the guy’s work.” If the Patriots decide to part ways with Welker, they could look to free agency, trade or the draft to replace the highly productive slot man.

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