At the risk of alienating some of my fellow Patriots fans I’m going to come out and say it, I don’t think the Patriots should spend a bucket load of money on keeping Wes Welker.
There, I’ve said it. I know many people will disagree with me, but that’s what makes sport so great.
I don’t think the Pats should give Brandon Lloyd another contract either, but that’s a different matter.
Here are the reasons I believe the Patriots should let Wes go.
Firstly, there is the matter of key drops. Now I know this is not all on Wes as some of the drops have been down to Brady forcing the ball into tight windows, but all the same, it seems as though Wes occasionally takes his eye off the ball at the crucial moment.
The drops are not the main reason I wouldn’t pay the man. As Bill Belichick doesn’t keep players based on sentiment this purely comes down to money as the primary reason. Prior to signing for the Patriots for a second and a seventh round pick in 2007 from the Miami Dolphins Welker was not exactly hugely productive.
I’m sure teams will line up to offer Wes a huge paycheck based on his recent flurry of 1,000+ yard receiving seasons, as there is no doubt he still has the ability to get open and often brings the ball in when in traffic.
The Patriots though, may think they have Welker’s replacement already on the roster, at a significantly lower cost contract. That man is the number 11, Julian Edelman.
Edelman is five years younger than Welker, who will be 32 come the start of the next season.
There is no denying that Wes is a statistical beast, but he only caught six touchdown passes this season as the Patriots No. 1 receiver. Edelman, largely as a special teams player, arguably had a breakout season this year, averaging 11.2 yards per carry, just 0.3 less per catch than Welker. He also scored three touchdowns off just 21 receptions.
Both players have a similar stature, with Edelman having the slight edge in size.
Last season the Patriots placed the franchise tag on Welker at a cost of $9.5m. This was short of his desired wage and to franchise him for a second successive season would cost in excess of $10m.
Julian Edelman is not the only reason I think it is financially sound to release Welker. There are a Few wide receivers hitting free agency this off-season. While Mike Wallace could be one of them, I think he is unlikely to be cost effective, one possible option could be Danny Amendola of the St Louis Rams.
The majority of the wide receivers entering the draft may not be draft-able for the Patriots, due to them drafting low, or due to team needs. Other positions need drafting first, but I’ll go into that in another post. There could be a couple of value options low down in the draft though. Steadman Bailey or Chad Bumphis, for example, may be deemed viable ‘projects’.
New England could also have three quality tight ends available next season, providing Gronk-andez and Ballard can remain fit. Daniel Fells remains a decent back-up, particularly in the blocking game and Josh McDaniels may decide to vary the offense to suit the personnel available to him.
McDaniels and Bill Billichick may also use more screen passes, with both Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead showing they can offer something in the passing game. If Jeff Demps can see the field this will allow Vereen and Woodhead to play this dual role of receiving and passing the baton with Demps and Ridley in the running game.
Think I’m a complete idiot who knows nothing? Or less likely, agree with me? Let me know below.