New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, perhaps Tom Brady‘s favorite weapon, has signed his one-year franchise tender. Thought to have signed a long term deal by now, apparently the two sides will have to work on an extension moving forward. Welker is due to make $9.5 million in 2012. As he noted yesterday, he had 9.5 million reasons to play football in 2012, so a holdout was never a question.
However, it was making fans uneasy that the team had yet to sign one of their best and most popular players. Welker has been a monster since joining the team, using his shiftiness and small stature to be a force over the middle of the field. In four of his five seasons he has had at least 111 receptions and 1,165 yards.
He was one of the best receivers in 2011, helping Brady cross the 5,000 yards passing barrier. Welker had a monster year, catching 122 passes for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns.
Unfortunately his season was marred by a crucial mistake in the Super Bowl. With the Patriots up on the New York Giants 17-15, 4:06 remaining and the ball on the Giants’ 44, Brady looked for Welker down the left seem. Though the ball was a bit high, Welker made an adjustment and got both hands on the ball.
But the sure-handed wide receiver with the reputation for having flawless hands let the ball fall to the ground. You could see the agony in his body language as he got down on both knees and put both hands over his head. Had he made the grab the Patriots likely would have been able to run out the clock, score a touchdown, or at the very least run the clock down and kick a field goal.
Either way you look at it, that catch could have won the Super Bowl.
“That’s one I’ll have to live with.” Welker said while holding back tears in the locker room.
Despite this play likely standing the test of time, Welker deserves a long term deal, and will hopefully be rewarded for his dominant production on the field.
Jeff is an NFL Featured Columnist for RantSports.com.
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