As Vince Lombardi once said, “What the hell’s going on out there?” There are so many conflicting reports coming out regarding New England Patriots impending free agent wide receiver Wes Welker, because we have been hearing reports that the and the Patriots are close to a deal, as well as reports saying he wants to test the open market.
So what the hell is going? Yesterday, CSNNE reported that Welker and the Patriots are close to getting a deal done, and this falls in line with the connecting of the dots. The Patriots and Welker have reportedly been making progress on a long-term deal ever since Tom Brady restructured his contract, and Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe recently wrote that Welker has the best chance of any Patriots player of re-signing. He only mentioned Sebastian Vollmer and Aqib Talib explicitly as players who will strive to check out the open market.
Today, Adam Schefter reported that Welker doesn’t want to re-sign with the Patriots before seeing what is out there on the open market. Reliable Boston Herald beat guy Jeff Howe backed that up in a way by tweeting that there is “nothing imminent”. Meanwhile, Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston (the most reliable of them all, in my opinion) stated that he would be “surprised” if a deal isn’t done. Reiss’s statement didn’t come off of sources like Howe, Schefter ,and CSNNE (although CSNNE comes to the conclusion closer to Reiss), but both Reiss and Bedard are as well-connected as anyone in the Pats beat.
I also look up to those guys the most out of anybody, and I usually defer to the local guys. That means it is 3-1 locally for the Pats signing Welker, and 3-3 overall if you count the Yahoo! Sports report from Jason Cole stating that Welker is still peeved over his diminished role and has some paranoia going forward about his role with the Pats. Then again, you could use Ed Werder’s report about how Welker will likely have a softer market in free agency than he expects as a reason for Welker signing with the Pats.
Listen, the Pats hold all the leverage here with Welker, and I’m not going to simply dismiss the reports from CSNNE and the stuff Bedard and Reiss stated. The Herald also reported about a week ago that Welker and the Pats are close to a three-year deal, and all Howe said was that “nothing is imminent”.
Here’s what I have gleaned from all this. The Pats and Welker are making more than tangible progress, but there are still doubts in the Welker camp preventing a deal from getting done. The only report that outright goes against the stuff from most of the Boston media is Schefter’s report, and I trust the Boston media more. They have better connections with the team, and we’ve seen national insiders come out wrong more often than a number of Patriots beat guys who agree on the same thing. Nothing is imminent, but I am still more optimistic than pessimistic at this point in time. I think both sides will get something done.
But the reports from Schefter and Howe are important, because they serve to show that both sides still have issues to work out and there are still very real doubts from Wes Welker’s side about simply signing off on a long-term pact before looking at other options. After playing on some cheap contracts earlier in his career, you can’t blame Welker for testing his value. But you can certainly hope as hard as you can for him to stay.
I believe Schefter’s report that Welker will test the open market, but I still believe he will ultimately stay with the Pats. I have a feeling he won’t find what he is looking for on the open market financially, and the best opportunity for success from Welker in the future is with the Pats.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.