After week one questions arose about how the New England Patriots about star receiver Wes Welker. Week two has confirmed that he is a receiver out of favor. In week one the four-time Pro Bowler has nearly 30% less snaps than he averaged in 2011. On Sunday, he was removed from the starting lineup.
This offseason was a bitter one for the Welker and the Patriots. With his contract expiring, Welker expected the Patriots to make re-signing him their top priority. But the team negotiated with him all the way through the offseason without coming to an agreement. Meanwhile, the team gave lengthy extensions to their tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
In 2011, Welker was the receiver for the Patriots. Chad Ochocinco was completely ineffective and Deion Branch was not the player he was during his first stint in New England. It was widely assumed that the Patriots would do everything they could to keep Welker around for the foreseeable future. Even with Brandon Lloyd being signed, Welker was still expected to be a key ingredient in the Patriots success.
As negotiations started into the offseason and Gronkowski got his large extension, both sides sounded confident a deal would get done. When Welker was given the franchise tag, the team insisted it was just to give the two sides time to get an extension done. But when the star receiver signed his franchise tender he revealed that the two sides were actually far apart in negotiations.
In the Patriots week one contest against the Tennessee Titans, Welker was only on the field for 64% of the team’s total snaps. That’s compared to the almost 90% of snaps he played in 2011. While several rookies shined in their first NFL game, Welker’s lack of play was the top story. On Sunday the Patriots supported the rumors that Welker was now an out-of-favor receiver by starting Julian Edelman in his place.
There have been rumors that Welker could be traded at some point this season. He will be a free agent next offseason and wanted by several teams. After being selected to four straight Pro Bowls and being twice named first-team All-Pro, few would’ve anticipated that Welker would end up where he sits now with the Patriots. But despite the unlikeliness of the situation, it appears that Wes Welker’s tenure as a New England Patriot is winding down.