Sad news today for Patriots fans, as receiver Wes Welker has signed a 2 year $12 million deal with the Denver Broncos. This does not completely come as a surprise, because in the last couple of days there have been a lot of reports saying that the Patriots and Welker were not close on a new deal. Obviously this is a huge disappointment for the Pats, and for us fans, but in football there is no time to dwell on the past and it is full speed ahead for the Patriots.
The first thing that came into my head when I saw the news of Welker was, “Tommy is going to be mad”. Welker was Brady’s go to guy for 5 years and Welker almost always came through for him. Sure, he had his share of drops but overall he made a ton of big plays. When Brady was in trouble and he needed someone to make a play, he looked for Welker. Whenever there was a big 3rd down that needed to be completed, Welker was the guy that made the play. He received a lot of one on one coverage because of the two TE’s this past year and he really took advantage of it. They key now for the Pats is to find a guy that can take advantage of the single coverage and consistently make plays for the Patriots.
With the Patriots being able to keep that money that they would have spent on Welker, they now have a lot of cash to work with for this offseason. The number one thing I think they should do, is to lock up Aqib Talib and Sebastian Vollmer. These guys are key to the Patriots success, and while they Pats weren’t able to get Welker, I think they can definitely resign both of these players. Talib is one of the best corners on the market and he really adds a new dimension to the defense when he is on the field. Vollmer is one of the top offensive lineman in the NFL, and he will be needed to keep Brady upright in the pocket.
Danny Amendola would be my first choice to go out and get at receiver if I were the Pats. He is as close to Welker as you can get in my opinion and I think he could fit in well with the Patriots. He is not as durable as Welker (well who is?) and he doesn’t have that connection with Brady that Welker had, but overall Amendola would be a solid replacement for Welker. Amendola is definitely more athletic than Welker is, and if given the chance, I feel that he would flourish in the Pats offense. Another thing the Pats will have to do is keep Brandon Lloyd. At one point in this offseason it seemed that Lloyd getting cut was going to be a sure thing. However, now with Welker gone the Pats are really going to need Lloyd in 2013.
The last thing the Patriots should do is go out in free agency and get another good cornerback. Money is not an issue for the Pats at this point, and I think they should take advantage of that and get a solid corner. This years market of corners is extremely deep and talented , there are a number of guys the Pats could use on their squad. As I have said before in numerous posts, Sean Smith is the guy that I like the most in this years free agency. He has shown through his career thus far in the NFL that he is a very capable starting corner on the outside. Between him, Alfonzo Dennard, and Aqib Talib (if signed) the Patriots would actually have a very solid secondary.
We all know that the Pats main weakness’s in the past few season have been the cornerbacks and the wide receiver position. Now both of these problems are amplified even more with the loss of Wes Welker, and the plain fact that they don’t have any talented corners under contract except for Dennard, although he may be facing jail time. If the Pats can fix these two positions, (which I think they can, will all the money they now have) then they will be a contender in 2013.