Former New England Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel had a point when he told Fox Sports Radio that Wes Welker and other players should try and get as much money as he can, but I wish the former Atlanta Falcons corner kept his mouth closed on this one.
Back in 2008, Asante Samuel left the Patriots to sign a lucrative contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was still a star for. At the time of Samuel’s signing, Wes Welker told the USA Today, “He chose money over championships, and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Welker did not hide his disappointment with Samuel’s decision to sign with the Eagles, but he did say that “it’s part of the business of the game”.
Welker finds himself in the same position as Asante Samuel, and I hope Patriots fans treat Welker’s decision with respect. There are so many people who act like Welker won’t be able to succeed with another team, and I hope he proves those people dead wrong if he does sign with another team. I’ll hold myself to the higher standard of not ill-wishing a 32-year-old player who has given this team as much as he could give (came back early from an ACL tear, took hit after hit moving the chains), even if he leaves the team for a higher pay day. In fact, this would likely be Welker’s final pay day; I won’t hold it against him if he means to go for as much as possible.
But, I hope Welker sticks around in New England. We need him. We really do. Do you really think 118 receptions is “easy to replace”? So many teams would kill for that much production and that much consistency in the middle of the field. As Matt Light said, Welker is an emotional spark for this team, and all it takes is to look at the big hits he takes and the offbeat things he says. You need guys like that in a locker room, even with a team like the Patriots.
I hope Welker takes his own words he speared at Samuel to heart, instead of taking Samuel’s advice. It would be naive to think that he can’t win a championship elsewhere (Denver comes to mind), but I think the best chance that Welker has of winning a championship is here in New England.
Welker and Tom Brady just fit too perfectly together, and the Patriots and Welker need each other. It wouldn’t be a catastrophe or anything if Welker left, but you had better believe this team will feel the impact. I hope Welker realizes that he has a chance to build an incredible legacy here in New England as a true pioneer of the slot position, because, if you notice, Welker’s success spurned other teams to start putting their best receivers in the slot. If Welker leaves, there is a real chance of him throwing all that away.
Maybe he does need the money, because it is true that he has played under under-valued contracts for most of his career. I hope the Patriots do give him a reasonable amount of money, but they just have so much tied up to just a few players on the roster. Wes Welker deserves nothing but your respect and admiration for what he has done for this team, but I wouldn’t blame you, the fan, for thinking of him less if he chooses to take the money. It could pay off for him literally and figuratively (mentally), but if he never wins a championship and the Patriots do without him, then it might be a decision he regrets for the rest of his life.
All I can hope for is that both the Patriots and Welker get a deal done, but I wish him success in whatever path he chooses. Of course, I wish the New England Patriots success in whatever path they choose as well.
I would like you guys to comment and tell me what you think Wes Welker could choose and your personal feelings about both Welker and his impending free agency.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.