By Tim Dillon
OK, maybe I’m speaking a little too soon. As most Patriot fans should know, star WR Wes Welker was unable to secure a long-term deal to his liking, and today was the deadline. The Patriots are now unable to discuss his contract with him any further until the end of this coming season when he will be a free agent. Now, the Patriots could place the franchise tag on Welker again at the end of next season, but I see that as highly unlikely since it will only make the money negotiating worse. My prediction? Welker is going to be traded before the end of this season.
I’ve said it before, Welker is a great receiver and one of my favorite players on the Patriots, but he is not worth the big bucks that a receiver like Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald are worth. He fits in well with the Patriots system and is virtually a perfect slot receiver, but not a down-field threat like Johnson or Fitzgerald. Also, look at the teams those two other receivers are on: the Lions have to pay Johnson the large salary because he is far-and-away their best offensive weapon and isn’t expendable, and the Cardinals…well…look at their team and name me another player that deserves a mega contract. Tom Brady already won 3 Super Bowl rings without him; he could do it again. Julian Edelman is a reliable slot receiver that could take the place of Welker at a much cheaper price.
So, why trade him? It’s simple. The odds of the two sides ever reaching a contract agreement are highly unlikely since they were so far apart in the talks this off-season. As a free agent next season, Welker would get offered the contract he desires from the many teams that will seek him out, and the Pats will let him walk. But why let him walk when they could get something for him instead? They could trade him at some point for a receiver of equal value, or maybe even for a player of a different position that will fill a hole in our team; perhaps to replace an injured impact player.
If I am right and they do trade Welker, what can we expect in return? My eyes are set on disgruntled Vikings WR Percy Harvin. He wants out of Minnesota (who could blame him) and he would be a perfect fit in the New England system. He could take Welker’s roll of slot receiver, he is a deep field threat, and he is an asset to special teams. Oh, did I mention that Harvin is seven years younger than Welker? This trade would likely take away a third or fourth round draft pick from New England too since Minnesota is in desperate need to rebuild their franchise, but who cares? Harvin will just have to give up the no. 12 jersey since no one will ever wear that number again in New England but Tom Brady.