The New England Patriots and Wes Welker have been making significant progress in contract talks over the past week, and that is likely due to a variety of factors. First off, the Patriots restructuring of Tom Brady‘s contract has freed up $15 million in cap space over the next two seasons. Secondly, it sounds like Welker doesn’t have much leverage.
According to a somewhat ground-breaking report from Ed Werder in this Wes Welker situation on ESPN’s SportsCenter today, there won’t be much of a free agent market for Welker. Via Rotoworld Werder stated, ”People I’ve talked to around the league think that the Patriots have made a wise move here. That there’s not gonna be a huge demand on the market for Wes Welker. He’ll get a minimal number of teams interested in him and probably be no more valuable to anybody than he is to Tom Brady. … I think Welker’s gonna in all likelihood return (to Foxboro).”
Greg Bedard wrote earlier that the New England Patriots most likely free agent to be re-signed before the March 12 deadline is Wes Welker, and both sides seem close to getting something done despite hitches that could occur. The news that Welker won’t garner much interest on the open market plays into the Patriots hand, and it also means that it is more likely for Welker to stay in New England and preserve his legacy as one of the great Patriots, as opposed to pulling an Asante Samuel and “chasing the paper”.
Welker would probably get interest from the Denver Broncos, but that hinges on what happens with Eric Decker. Since Welker is 32 and is viewed as a scheme-specific player, that is the most likely deterrent for other teams. Welker would probably get a nice deal on the open market, because all it takes is just a few teams who fit his playing style and have a big need for Welker for him to get a large deal. At this point in time, though, it seems like 90-10 on Welker signing with the Patriots.
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