We interrupt the Hooking Foul baseball preview to bring you the NFL free agency news that Wes Welker has signed a 2 year 12 million dollar contract with the Denver Broncos. Yes, you are correct that does not say with the New England Patriots.
For the last 6 years Wes Welker has put up huge statistics and become the definition of a chain moving slot receiver working with Tom Brady in New England. He has averaged 112 catches per season which is by far the most in the league over that time. He redefined the usefulness of the position and his impact on the game is visible and tangible, but, sad as it may be, its ok that he is gone, now let me tell you why.
At 33 years old (the age Welker will be at the start of the 2013 season) Welker is too old and has taken too many big hits to be counted on to be healthy for an entire season at the 6 million dollar per year price point the Broncos signed him too. Once that large a cap commitment is made you have to be damn sure you are going to get the production. The reason you have to be sure of the production is because you are paying for 2013s production, not 2012s production. Welker has taken hits for 10 years now as punt returner and slot receiver and he is not exactly the biggest guy. He is a relisant guy, and I won’t ever question his toughness, but at some point the body gives out. The Patriots have obviously decided that they think Welker’s body will go sooner rather than later.
There is also this little stat I found in an ESPN article, in 08 and 09 Welker caught 33 balls for everyone he dropped. From 10-12 he caught 12.5 balls for everyone he dropped. That is like a home run hitter going from 40 homers to 20 homers. That is a huge fall off, and I’d say a contributor to his departure from New England.
I’m seeing a lot of New England people criticizing the Patriots for not matching the deal and for letting Welker go in general, but let us remember Welker was offered more money than he got in Denver from New England see Jason LaConfora’s twitter below.
On Welker, a year ago Pats offer 2yrs, around $18M, on a front-loaded deal before he ended up franchised. Another yr older not good for WRs
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 13, 2013
The fact that no one else matched the Denver offer either, or even exceeded it is a truly telling tale of what Welker’s value was around the league. The Patriots set the bar at 2 years 5 million per year. Denver paid a little more and got Welker who will no doubt be equally or close to as good with Peyton Manning as he was with Tom Brady, if healthy. The lack of interest from other teams though tells me that he is viewed as a guy who relies on the QB and system to produce, the wrong system or the wrong QB and Welker is just wasted cap space.
Welker was a gamer, a blue collar style tough guy who New Englanders love. That is why they are in a frenzy about his departure, but the sun will rise tomorrow. Danny Amendola has been targeted by a far worse quarterback, with far worse options around him as many times as Welker has in a season and succeeded. (Sidenote: his offensive coordinator that season? Josh McDaniels.) Its not like the Patriots won a Super Bowl with Welker, although they could have if….you know what I’m talking about.