Wes Welker has been locked into contract negotiations with the New England Patriots virtually since the moment the Patriots walked off the field after their Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants but there has been very little progress. Instead Welker has had the pleasure of watching the Patriots receiving core get a whole lot deeper over the offseason.
The latest signing is an ex-Patriot and former favorite target of Tom Brady’s, Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney left the Patriots’ organization in 2009 to join offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in Denver but McDaniels came back to New England at the end of last year. It seems that Gaffney has decided to rejoin his former coordinator once again.
Before signing Gaffney, the Patriots had already signed wide receivers Anthony Gonzalez, Brandon Lloyd, Donte’ Stallworth and they re-signed Deion Branch. They also still have Chad Ochocinco under contract and their dynamic duo of receiving tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Brady threw 90 or more passes to two receivers last season and judging by their offseason moves, the Patriots plan to spread the ball around a little more. Not that the Patriots’ offense was all that predictable in the first place but by getting more people involved, the Patriots could be gearing up for an even bigger year.
But with all of the wide receivers New England has currently added to its roster, Welker doesn’t have much leverage to negotiate. What makes his situation even worse is that despite catching over 100 receptions in four of his five seasons in New England, Welker hasn’t generated much interest in the free agent market.
He’s a hard worker but most see his production as a product of the system. Teams have gotten burned before by signing or trading for ex-Patriots’ receivers who didn’t have the same kind of production with their new team.
Most of those receivers were more talented than Welker though. Welker is short and slow compared to many of the receivers that have come out of New England which has to affect his market value. Although Brady never seems to like seeing any of his receivers leave, he may be about to lose the most productive receiver he has had during his career with the Patriots.
But that seems to be how things are done in New England. Welker may deserve a big contract and there are probably a lot of fans rooting for him to get it but the only player in New England that can command the kind of money he wants is Brady.
So what does that mean for Welker? Either he can take what the Patriots give him or he can do like so many receivers before him have done which is leave, have a sub-par season or two somewhere else, then come back to New England at a more reasonable price.
It may not be what he wants. It may not be what he deserves. That’s just the Patriot way.
Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at RHall_TPFB@Yahoo.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.