There’s an old 80’s song by the rock group Abba, “I know there is something going on” and Wes Welker must have the same feeling.
As contract negotiations have come to a grinding halt, Welker witnessed Rob Gronkowski land a 6-Year, $54 million deal. Bill Belichick knows how to make a slap in the face seem more like a punch.
Welker turned down a 2-Year, $16 million deal and the Patriots pulled the offer. Hardball is what you call it, but any way you look at it, Welker is viewed as piece with a value that can be expendable.
The Patriots just don’t do what they did with Gronkowski, extending him with two years left on his contract. However, before you think they are changing, picture this: the 2013 the salary cap is due to go up to as far as $150 million, as opposed to the $129 million currently in place. In signing Gronkowski early, the Patriots actually got a bargain.
Welker isn’t part of the long term future, where Gronkowski will be one of the first players to probably play without Tom Brady.
Welker has been the good soldier, he’s lead the league in receptions, and is hailed as the prototype slot receiver. However, in the Patriots system, he’s an aging wide receiver who has taken an abundance of huge hits, and has a reconstructed blown out knee.
Welker’s biggest misfortune is that he is a year behind the big payday year. 2013 teams would overspend to get Welker, extra change in the NFL teams pocket means more for Welker’s wallet. That means Welker has to have another super season to land a big payday, and with the additions of Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney, Welker will see the ball less.
Maybe he should have signed that two year deal, which was guaranteed. Welker tip toed around in the media, flip flopping about his intents on reporting to the Patriots off-season training program and the Patriots did not like that at all.
The team has dug in, and it seems they are quite content to let Welker play out the franchise tag, and there hasn’t been any indication that Welker has a stipulation like Asante Samuel had that the Patriots wouldn’t tag him againthe following year.
So if Welker does have a super season again, the Patriots could tag him and he would be premium trade bait. On the other hand, if Welker’s production drops, then that $16 million dollar deal looked pretty good in retrospect.
$16 million guaranteed meant Welker didn’t have to worry about 2013. Now it’s probably the most critical of his career.