The whereabouts of Wes Welker‘s playing days for next season and beyond still remain a mystery. But if it were up to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, he would prefer Welker “remains a Patriot for life, just like Tom Brady.”
The Patriots and Brady just completed a contract extension that ensured he will play in New England through 2017. The deal will keep Brady in a Patriot uniform until age 40, which will likely be the last season of his Hall of Fame career.
One of the reasons Brady agreed to a modest contract extension that freed up cap space for the Patriots was he was confident the team would invest in players that would help them reach another Super Bowl. Brady probably envisioned the team working out a deal with Welker to keep him in New England for the remainder of his career. However, the Patriots and Welker have yet to agree on contractual terms to keep the talented receiver in New England.
The Patriots opted not to use the franchise tag on Welker this season, avoiding an $11.4 million dollar payment to the wideout for the 2013 season. After the two sides failed in negotiations, Welker announced he would test the free agency market. There have been various rumors spreading related to where he will play next season, but the general perception is that he will return to New England.
Kraft hopes the speculation of Welker returning is true as he reiterated his love for the wide receiver and his desire to keep him in a Patriots uniform.
“I love Wes Welker,” Kraft told ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell on Monday in New York.
“We want Wes. We really do,” Kraft said via the New York Daily News.
Kraft has faith the two sides can work out a deal to retain Welker: “I’d love him to be around as well. He’s a great guy; like I said all along, it takes two sides to make a transaction, and then we have to manage the lawyers and the agents, that they don’t mess it up. I think Wes wants to be with us and we want him here. It’s just a matter of whether both sides can be intelligent.”
It makes sense that Kraft really wants to keep Welker in New England. He finished last season with a team-high 118 catches for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns. He also became the first player in NFL history with five 110-catch seasons after reeling in 118 receptions this past season. He has averaged a whopping 112 receptions during his six seasons with the Patriots.
The Patriots need Welker and he needs the Patriots, so it’s time to make things right and work out a deal.