Is the sun setting on Wes Welker’s New England career? Although he sounded unfazed about not being able to come to a long-term agreement with the Patriots, the writing may be on the wall for Mr. Welker.
Welker signed his franchise tender tender earlier this past Spring and reported to offseason workouts in hopes of negotiating and securing a lucrative long term deal with the Patriots. Unable to come to an agreement before the July 16th deadline, Welker became resigned to the fact that he’d be forced to play the 2012 season under a one year deal.
Speaking with WBZ-FM in Boston, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft addressed the matter:
“He’s the ultimate professional. He’s a great football player. A great person. He brings a huge amount of effort every time he steps into this building be it in March or April or be it in October or on a Sunday afternoon. Emotions have to stay out of it when you are looking at the dollars … Wes is here. He is a Patriot for this year. Hopefully he’ll be a Patriot beyond.”
It’s hard to imagine what the Patriots offense might look like sans Welker, but a look back on recent history may show that New England is more than prepared for Welker’s potential exit. From NFL.com’s Albert Breer:
Next year, when Welker’s contract is up again, Hernandez is going into a contract year. And this type of situation isn’t unprecedented. In 2004, Brandon Stokley went for 1,000 yards for the Indianapolis Colts and was Peyton Manning’s most trusted target. Injuries wound up driving him out of Indianapolis a couple years later. The man who replaced much of his production: Dallas Clark
If the Patriots do decide to let Welker walk, Aaron Hernandez should prove more than capable of filling the ‘Dallas Clark’ role within the New England offense. Manning and Clark did a lot of their damage with Clark lining up in the slot position. Hernandez has already proven himself to be a deadly receiver. We’ll have to wait until next year to see if he is truly capable of replacing Wes Welker’s production.