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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Is There a Market for Welker Outside New England?

Looking at Wes Welker’s numbers, you would expect him to receive a big payday this offseason. Welker has been the New England Patriots’ most productive receiver over the past five years but there are a couple of factors that may determine if he receives that big payday or not.

Welker has caught at least 100 catches or more in four of the five years he has played in New England but how much of that production comes from playing in the Patriots system? The way he is utilized and of course having Tom Brady as your quarterback helps a lot in amassing impressive numbers like Welker’s.

It also doesn’t hurt having all of the other talented receivers around like Deion Branch, Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez over the years. Welker usually lines up off the line which helps him avoid getting jammed at the line of scrimmage allowing him to get into his routes seamlessly.

Why is it so important to keep him off the line? Well that’s another one of those factors that teams will look at when deciding how much to pay him. Welker is only 5’9”. While being that short has never been a detriment for the Carolina Panthers’ Steve Smith, most would agree that Smith is a freak of nature possessing insane strength and speed in such a compact body.

Speed and strength are two things that are not usually associated with Welker though. Welker was overlooked by teams in the 2004 draft because of his height and his 4.61 speed. He wasn’t even invited to the draft combine that year.

History is also not on Welker’s side. Wide receivers have not been as productive playing for other teams after leaving the Patriots’ system. Another historical factor is how the Patriots have dealt with some of their free agents. When it came time for Richard Seymour, Deion Branch and Randy Moss to cash in, the Patriots traded them.

If the Patriots don’t think they can afford Welker then he may be gone but there is always the possibility that Welker may sign for something the Patriots feel is more reasonable. Especially if Welker tests the market and no team is willing to bite on his asking price. 

Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and also writes for both The Penalty Flag and Outside The Redzone. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @Sportmentalist.

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