Well, this isn’t a shock.
Ron Borgs of the Boston Herald says a source told him that the New England Patriots won’t use the franchise tag to retain receiver Wes Welker for another season.
With the tag price at $11 million, the Patriots aren’t going to want to pay a 31 year old receiver that kind of money. Especially not one who takes a huge beating every game he plays in. Most likely the franchise tag will be given to either Aqib Talib or Sebastian Vollmer, and that’s even if the team proceeds to use the tag.
At the beginning of last season, most of us questioned whether the Patriots were phasing out Welker from the offense and allowing Julian Edelman to step in as his replacement, but we were soon proven wrong as Welker went on to have a very productive season. Unless the front office can manage to bring in a better slot receiver or one who’s younger with a high ceiling (looking at you Percy Harvin), then I can’t see Welker coming back. Of course money and contract length will be an issue with Welker as they don’t want to sign him to a long-term deal just to watch his talent decrease drastically as his age increases.
But the pressure is on in New England. While Welker has never been number one receiver talent in my book, but as the second or third receiver he can be a huge threat. When Randy Moss was the man in New England, Welker had some of his best seasons to date. And other teams are interested in Welker and are more willing to give him the cash he may want.
The San Francisco 49ers were rumored to be interested, and acquiring him would make them obvious favorites to win it all next year. I could also see the Atlanta Falcons reaching out for his help if Tony Gonzalez doesn’t return this season. He’ll open things up for Roddy White and Julio Jones similar to how Gonzalez did.
I was a betting woman, I’d put my money on Welker returning. Between the chemistry between he and Tom Brady and the success this team has had since acquiring Welker, the two are a perfect fit. And if he was really about team success, he’d take less than what he wants so the Patriots can attempt to get a real number once receiver.