After I hastily reported yesterday that Wes Welker was closing in on a long-term deal to return to New England, Adam Schefter reported today that the Patriots receiver will instead test the free agent market before agreeing to any deal with the team he has averaged 112 catches for over the past 6 seasons.
This is somewhat surprising news as Welker would be hard pressed to find a situation better suited to his skill-set than with Brady and the Patriots. In his 6 seasons in New England Welker has caught 672 receptions for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns. That is a high production of output that the Patriots, should Welker decide to leave for a new team, would greatly miss.
So the question now is where will Welker end up when the free agency period is over? Is he going to return to New England, or will he decide to join a new team after 2 Super Bowl appearances in Foxboro? It must be said that just because Welker said he will not be signing a contract at least until free agency starts, that does not mean that he does not intend to return to New England. It could just be that he is creating a bit more leverage by declaring he is going to test the market. Still, it seems that now is the time to start speculating on just where Welker might end up.
Detroit, Seattle, the Jets, and Tampa Bay are all looking for help at the receiver position. The Jets would be a long shot, as they are strapped for cash this offseason, but the other 3 of those teams would all be intriguing options. Tampa Bay would love to obtain Welker’s services, as they have 2 great outside receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Having Welker in the slot with those two would make for a devastating passing attack. The Lions would also improve dramatically on offense with Calvin Johnson on the outside and Welker in the slot. And lets not forget that Russell Wilson lead his Seahawks to the divisional round with pretty much no big name receivers on the roster. Sidney Rice is serviceable, but in now way a top receiver in the league. Adding Welker to the passing attack would open up Seattle’s entire offense in ways that would be scary for opposing defenses.
My money is on Welker returning to the Pats despite this recent news, but that does not mean it isn’t fun to speculate. Guess we will just have to wait and see what happens come March 12th.