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NFL New England Patriots

New England Patriots Must Bring Back Wes Welker in 2013

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots and Wes Welker have come to a stalemate after an entire off-season of contract negotiations on which the two sides “weren’t even close.” However, the Patriots’ AFC Championship loss to the Baltimore Ravens saw Welker as Tom Brady‘s favorite target, which hasn’t changed, contrary to popular belief. Although the Patriots are great at replacing production, they’re crazy if they think they can just find another Welker for 2013 and beyond.

Brady has been a Rob Gronkowski lover for the past three seasons, but his main man has always been Welker. During his six seasons in New England, Welker has recorded at least 111 catches in five of them. His greatest total came in 2009 when he tied the NFL record with 123 and he missed two and half games due to injury that year.

Since he joined New England in 2007, Welker has hauled in more passes than any other player and he’s only 31. When you have a player whose caught 672 passes over six seasons, you don’t just let him walk, even if he asks for a little more cash.

Yet that’s exactly what the Patriots are planning to do. It would be very ironic if Welker just got on a one-way flight to Colorado and signed with the Denver Broncos to play with the greatest quarterback of all time in Peyton Manning. That would surprise no one and it would make the Broncos Super Bowl favorites if they weren’t already.

One thing is certain: the Patriots absolutely will not be the same team without Welker. They can pretend Julian Edelman can fill his role all they want, but they know it’s not true and so does every defensive coordinator in the NFL. The incredible offensive production in New England will be drastically slowed if Welker is allowed to leave.

Jeric Griffin is the Director of Content for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JericGriffin, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google