Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/8/14

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on during warm ups against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
No, Tom Brady probably didn’t make Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick give him a secret handshake, promising that if he gave them a few million, they’d turn and sign his buddy, Wes Welker. Sentimental Patriots fans would only like to think that. But that doesn’t mean that Brady restructuring his contract — the second time in a calendar year — wasn’t done with Welker in mind. Yes, it’s a “team-friendly” deal (but hold your horses, because it could be a lot friendlier) — but, more than that, it’s a Welker-friendly deal. While the Patriots may not have had much wiggle room before to give Welker the multiyear contract he wanted, the timing of Brady’s extension and the space it provides means the Patriots have no excuse now. They are ready if they choose to make a move. After many proclamations that the Pats would like to make Welker a Patriot for life, now is the time. The idea of an extension before free agency begins in March is not far-fetched, with New England wise to lock up Welker quickly rather than letting other teams drive up the price — or steal him away. The Patriots also need to move quickly on Welker for other reasons. Welker has always been the first domino in New England’s 2013 offseason. While help is needed on the offensive line, with Sebastian Vollmer a free agent, and in the secondary, where Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard are gambles on which the Pats need to decide, the championship road in New England will always go through Brady and whoever is on the other end of his throws. The Patriots have had several eras since Belichick became coach in 2000, and it’s clear which blend New England prefers. Defense and Brady won three titles, a lack of offense led to short-circuited playoff hopes for several years, and then a horrible secondary hamstrung the Patriots’ offense-powered teams in recent years. The Patriots prefer the final rendition — and the hope that they can plug defensive holes — over going back to the offensively weak teams that negated Brady’s ability for many seasons. The reason Welker is such an important signing is because having him on the team gives the Patriots another area they can cross off their development to-do list. While New England has had skill developing young players or plugging in veterans here and there, such as on defense, some positions are vital and can’t involve guesswork. Wide receiver — at least one wide receiver spot — has become one of those. The Patriots have had serious hiccups incorporating new wide receivers in recent years, from Chad Ochocinco to Brandon Lloyd. Spending extra for a proven player who has been a bargain for the team is plenty reasonable if the payoff is avoiding the headaches that have happened before (Chad Finn‘s take, and his comparison to the Deion Branch situation, is especially helpful on this one). Once Welker is taken care of, the team can get to its other pressing needs, deciding whether to bring back Talib and doling out money on other positions. The draft, free agency and the trade market all have plenty of possibilities for the Patriots to comb through, and the team could go in many directions as it evaluates personnel and cap space. But one spot where the Patriots have likely long had their minds made up is at wide receiver, where Welker has been among the best. The powers that be know whether Welker will be back — it just took time to answer the final questions (like if someone like Julian Edelman could take his place) and to free up the money that could make investing in one offensive tool worthwhile when trying to build a team that is losing about two dozen free agents. The Patriots know whether they consider Welker essential, or whether they’ll be happy with what he’s done for several seasons and let him go. But in terms of when that decision will be made public in the form of a contract? That time is now. The big domino has fallen in freeing up money to sign Welker, and now the Patriots must pull the trigger before free agency so the rest of the team can be put in order. The Pats have enough to spend on Welker and then pick freely among other the pieces, with no excuses. Waiting gains them nothing. Who knows whether Brady had a hand in getting Welker on the team for another season. This much is clear, though: Brady isn’t interested in returning to the years when he didn’t have a receiver as reliable as Welker to make his offense go, and he’s shown that in a big way by reworking his deal. The Patriots now must show whether they agree.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bryce Harper calls Andrelton Simmons' slide a 'B.S. play'

Kirk Gibson diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease

Kevin Love likely out for remainder of playoffs

NFL fines Jets $100K for tampering with Revis

Report: Ray Rice getting 'legititmate interest' from teams

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Orioles game postponed for second consecutive day

NFL Draft hopeful Ray arrested before biggest day of his life

Goodell expects DeflateGate report's release 'soon'

J.R. Smith promises to be better person, player after suspension

The importance of the Clippers' bench against the Spurs

Trading up for QB in first round is a risky proposition

WATCH: Ray Lewis gives fiery speech about Baltimore riots

Some early season observations that could hold true all year

Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM: 'Everything is for sale'

Tampa restaurant offers Jameis Winston free crab legs

J.J. Watt writes note for fan to get out of work for charity event

Orioles VP reacts to Baltimore protests with passionate tweets

Should the Warriors be worried about extended rest?

WATCH: Paul Pierce bangs glass at Capitals-Islanders Game 7

Jon Jones turns himself into police, facing felony charge

Report: Brady was at stadium day of White House visit

Arkansas has leather belt to commemorate Texas Bowl win

John Angelos, Orioles got it right with Freddie Gray protest

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kirk Gibson diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease

Bucs GM: 'Everything is for sale'

Tampa restaurant offers Jameis Winston free crab legs

Hamilton: Angels knew the risks

Jon Jones turns himself into police, facing felony charge

MLB could move Orioles’ home games

Duke takes over as the No. 1 recruiting class

Titans have been 'all over' Mariota?

Doc Rivers tore into Clippers after loss

Worst picks ever by every NFL franchise

Report: Cowboys not in on Peterson

NFL Draft 2015: Ranking the QBs

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.