It is clear that the New England Patriots don’t want to pay Wes Welker the pay he wants at his current age. With the addition of receiver Brandon Lloyd and the two-to-three tight end packages the team will be running this year you have to wonder if the Patriots are working their way out of Welker being the face of the offense.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com posted an article after Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans listing how many snaps each offensive player took. Tight-ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski (67/67) never left the field. Newcomer Lloyd (57/67) played in 85 percent of the snaps. Welker, who played in 89 percent of the teams snaps last season only played in 64 percent (43/67) on Sunday.
There are a few things that you can look at when determining whether this is a thing or just one game: New England was ahead majority of the game and proceeded to run the ball further into the game which meant tight ends were needed more than Welker was for run protection. And with the way Stevan Ridley was running last game, it may keep Wes on the sideline more than often.
With such a small sample size, it’s difficult to say this as a runaway from Welker, but it will be something interesting to look at in the coming weeks. The Patriots have made it known that the tight end position will be the focal point in the offense whether it’s providing mismatches in the passing game or adding additional blockers on the offensive line in the running game. Welker is still a huge Tom Brady target, so keep this one your radar of things-to-watch as the Patriots take on the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday.