Are Wes Welker’s days as a Patriot Numbered?
A drastic cut back in playing time, plus going from bargain priced steal, to possibly over paid side piece and you have a recipe for what may be the end of an era. The media is buzzing with reports of a possible schism between Welker’s relationship with the Patriots as he stands to make $9.5 million this year after signing a franchise tag. During contraction negotiations this off season things turned very odd after Welker made it public he would essentially opt in the team’s best interest by taking a discount instead of insisting on more money. So likewise that explains how he went from $2.15 million to almost 10…righhttt.
The ‘shroud of secrecy’ that’s been hovering over the Patriots organization since the Belichick tenure has left many no choice to believe that there is a conspiracy at works. Why has Welker gone from number one choice receiver to sitting on a bench while the likes of Julian Edleman and Brandon Lloyd take the field? Of course the ‘Patriot Way’ has never been one that kisses and tells so we won’t be getting a definitive answer from Belichick or Welker anytime soon, but is it safe to say the proverbial proof is in the pudding? It’s not everyday that star receivers making substantial bank are slashed playing time.
One could hint at the Pats new found love affair with the tight end position as Gronkowski and (now injured) Hernandez have gotten the bulk of love by Brady, as a big reason why Welker has become an afterthought. One could also allude to the the great off season Julian Elderman had as a sign that he’s improved to a level where he can be used more–it has been 4 years in the making, afterall. Whatever the media chooses to hone in as the reason why Welker has been receiving the cold shoulder one can’t deny that Welker’s unquestionable loyalty to the team doesn’t warrant being pushed aside so out of the blue. Welker wasn’t placed into Sunday’s game vs the Cardinals until after Aaron Hernandez was taken off the field. So, say Hernandez hadn’t been hurt would Welker have ever seen the field at all? Things that make you wonder.
So what would be the motivation for the Patriots trying to ‘phase’ out Welker? The infamous ‘drop’ from last year’s Super Bowl? His quip at Rex Ryan’s foot fetish? Or the fact he got paid the money a top receiver is supposed to make instead of settling on ‘home town’ discounts? It would be beneath the franchise to nickle and dime one of their staples, but since they’re not offering up any words on the matter they can’t fault us from using evidence that supports the claim.