Ron Borges of the Boston Herald wrote a long column about New England Patriots star slot receiver Wes Welker‘s impending unrestricted free agency, detailing the mistake Welker made in trying to get a larger deal with the Patriots. Now the most interesting thing about this piece, at least from my perspective, is the note from a source “with intimate knowledge of the team’s thinking”.
The source told Borges that the Patriots would not apply the franchise tag for a second year running, because then they would be giving Welker $11.4 million this upcoming season.
Now, my first question after hearing this is, then who gets the tag? I doubt the Patriots will find the need to tag Sebastian Vollmer, because it seems like the star right tackle would be more than willing to sign on with the team. If things do, for some reason, go less than expected with Vollmer during negotiations, then I could see the Pats applying the tag on him. There isn’t anybody who can easily replace Vollmer at RT, and most people (like me) believe Vollmer is the Pats free agent priority.
Aqib Talib could be a franchise tag candidate, but I would hate to pay him $10.7 million for one season. He reportedly wants to test the market to see what he can get (I bet some team will overpay him), and the Patriots are reportedly reluctant to give Talib a multi-year deal.
The reason why Welker won’t get the franchise tag is probably because the Patriots won’t want to give him $11.4 million to play out just one season, and they most likely believe they can get a deal done with him for cheaper than that (and for more than one year). Welker is immensely valuable to this team, and I would recommend reading the piece by Borges if you disagree with that.
Robert Kraft said he would love to get a deal done with Welker but is afraid his agents will get in the way, and I’m afraid of that happening as well. The Patriots want him back (I hate it when people say they will “let him walk”), because they realize how important he is to this team. The problem is that they have so much money tied to the same few players, and they don’t want to have a cap conundrum because they once again concentrated their money on the same few players- but that’s just my guess.
I hope Welker takes some sort of a discount in order to stay in New England, because it’s the best fit for him and for the Patriots organization. I bet Tom Brady and the rest of the guys on offense would love for him to stay, and we’ve heard former players from other teams and the Pats clamor for both sides to get a deal done. Matt Light praised Welker’s contagious excited nature and attitude, and Welker seems like the sparkplug for this team. Whenever you see him take a big hit and get up from it yelling for more, it even pumps you up when you’re sitting on the couch at home.
I wouldn’t blame Welker if he took more money with another team, because he’s a veteran in this league and deserves to try and get as much money as he can before he retires. I would hope he values staying with the Patriots a little bit more, but it’s naive to think that it’s not possible for him to win a ring elsewhere. Plenty of contenders will line up to try and sign a final- and very valuable piece- to their team. I just hope the contender he signs with is New England, because I would hate to see him scoring touchdowns on us.
There is this scary feeling that I have that Wes Welker won’t be back with the Patriots in 2013, but I’d like to remain optimistic that both teams can come to a compromise and get something reasonable that works out for both sides done. I have hope, but I also agree with Borges’s source that franchising Welker isn’t the best idea.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.