Although his wife maybe getting more publicity these days, New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker is still one of the most impactful offensive players in the NFL.
The 5-foot-9 slot receiver will become one of the most relevant names in the entire league in a few weeks when he becomes a free agent. If New England decides not to sign him to a long-term deal, the former Texas Tech standout could bring his talents elsewhere in the AFC; whether it is to join forces with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers or Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts – it is a move that will cripple the Patriots dynasty and its high-paced, spread offense.
Welker has caught over 110 passes from quarterback Tom Brady in five of the last six seasons, which makes him arguably the biggest pass weapon in football. Although blasphemous when considering names such as Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Larry Fitzgerald, Welker’s consistency is unmatched and his importance to what New England does offensively is unquestioned – just ask Brady, a three-time Super Bowl Champion.
"Everybody knows how I feel about Wes, our whole team feels that way about Wes," Brady said during his weekly interview with the "Dennis & Callahan Show" on Boston sports radio WEEI. "He's just one of the best players I've played with and played against. He's just a phenomenal player, and he's been the heart and soul of what our team is all about. He's been so selfless, and the way that he carries himself and commits himself to help our team win, it's second-to-none. But like I said, those aren't my decisions."
While the Patriots could consider placing a franchise tag on Welker for the second consecutive season, some sources familiar with the organization believe the team is not willing to spend over $11 million for Welker’s services once again. Why? Some point to Sunday’s AFC Championship game where Welker couldn’t hold on to a few crucial passes; however, this small sample – one game – doesn’t give Welker’s career in New England nearly enough justice.
He’s more than Tom Brady’s favorite and most reliable target; he’s the first player in league history with five 110-catch seasons. He’s small and he’s getting older, but he can still make any team in the league a contender with his consistency on the field and his work ethic off it.
Without him, the Patriots are not only getting worse, they are making an opponent a heck of a lot better.
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