The deadline for Wes Welker came and went yesterday without so much as a whisper out of Foxboro. That means for all intensive purposes, Wes will play the 2012 season under the franchise tag and make $9.5 million dollars.
Wes had said when he signed his tender months ago that he was taking a leap of faith. I’m pretty sure we all thought that leap was that the team would workout a long term deal with Wes.
So what’s the endgame in this scenario?
Does Wes play out this season and then leave via free agency next year? Do we see any dip in his numbers with a healthy Gronk and Hernandez in the fold, not to mention Brandon Lloyd? Will that have an affect on his market value if he opts for free agency? Will the team try and franchise him again and have, as I read, almost 25% of its cap money tied up with two players (Brady being the other).
I think the Patriots are a smart organization and that they’ll play this the best they can to not handcuff their cap for the future but at the same time won’t sacrifice winning. I see Wes playing out this season, his numbers dipping with the other guys on the team getting some of his touches. Then when the season ends the Patriots present him with a three year contract in the $6 million per range.
From there it gets a little cloudy in my crystal ball. I could totally see him balking at that contract. Getting franchised again, and then knowing they’re up against it, the Patriots trading Welker.
The thing is, he is a product of his environment. Brady and the Belichick/McDaniel’s offensive model have made him an important piece. Does he think he’ll see those kind of numbers if he went back to Miami (where the Pats pulled him from in the first place). Is he going to get those numbers in Arizona or Pittsburgh? No. He is successful because of where he plays and the system he plays in.
So he can go chase the pay day if he wants to, but I’m in the camp hoping he realizes that he’s good because he plays here. Take the multi-year lower dollar deal, stay Brady’s binky, and when your time is up, retire as a Patriot.
Just my thoughts.