Read this and tell me this guy doesn't deserve to get paid. What an embarrasment of the Patriots organization if they don't reach a deal with Welker. The dude has done everything right yet gets no respect from the organization. Shamefull!
Wes Welker's ‘leap’ led into this abyss
If Wes Welker was as brave going into a contract negotiation as he is going across the middle, he wouldn’t be in the predicament he is today. If there’s one thing men plying Welker’s trade want to avoid it’s being a defenseless receiver, yet that is exactly what he has allowed himself to become as he enters free agency next month.
Surely, it is difficult for Welker to look at all he’s accomplished the past six years and see himself that way, but it is a bed he made for himself beginning when he first arrived in 2007 and agreed to a five-year extension that quickly became vastly undervalued.
He made the same mistake in 2010 when he was coming off three straight 100-catch seasons, had outperformed his contract and was surrounded by a suspect receiving corps. For a guy who understands leverage so well on the field, Welker seemed to have no clue about it at the negotiating table.
What he should have done then was what helped make Logan Mankins, Richard Seymour and Deion Branch rich. He should have gone to Aruba instead of training camp.
Same was true last year when instead of withholding his services he turtled after some early threats and signed a franchise tender on May 15. That got him a guaranteed one-year deal worth $9.515 million (slightly more than 50 percent of the $18,126,960 he’d been paid over the previous five seasons), but the day he signed he tweeted: “I love the game and I love my teammates! Hopefully doing the right thing gets the right results. #leapoffaith.”
Two days later, the Patriots reduced their fully guaranteed two-year, $16 million offer that he’d declined the previous season. Sounding as if he just realized Ed Reed had him in his crosshairs, Welker responded, “There have been talks, but nothing that’s brightened anything at all. It’s actually gotten worse.”
The only one surprised by that was Welker.
Welker gave away his leverage twice and paid for it. His first deal led him to earn $2.15 million in 2011 while Chad Ochocinco was paid $6 million. The other difference between them was Welker caught 122 passes to Ochocinco’s 15.
Now he finds himself a soon-to-be 32-year-old slot receiver who was among the most productive players in the NFL in 2012, yet is being whispered about as someone who drops too many balls (15, same total as in 2011), doesn’t get enough yards after the catch (he only led the league with 619) and is aging even though he’s missed only three regular-season games in six seasons. By comparison, his rumored replacement, Julian Edelman, has missed 10 games the past two seasons and 16 of a possible 64 in his four-year career while, according to Pro Football Focus, catching only eight passes for 69 yards out of 125 slot routes run the past three years.
While there is no replacement for Welker on the roster, that won’t matter. Neither will the Patriots’ abysmal record of drafting wideouts. The Patriots are simply not going to put an $11.4 million franchise tag on Welker, someone with intimate knowledge of the team’s thinking said. Nor is he going to get an offer better than the one he turned down in 2011. So all his #leapoffaith got Welker was a decent one-year deal, but he’s got no grounds to complain because the Patriots long ago showed how they do business if you do yours the way he did his, which was to hold out a tin cup and hope they’d drop something in it.
The only players that have received market value here are ones who either walked or threatened to walk: Seymour twice, Asante Samuel, Vince Wilfork, Damien Woody, Adam Vinatieri, Branch and Mankins.
Mankins held out for nearly half a season, trading $2 million in fines for a six-year, $51 million deal that guaranteed him $30 million, including a $20 million signing bonus. The bonus alone was more than Welker made his first five years here. Mankins didn’t take a #leapoffaith. He took a seat.
Branch got paid by making a leap to his couch. He stared them in the eye while still under contract until they blinked, signing a $39 million deal with Seattle after a 45-day holdout in 2006. He exchanged $600,000 in fines for a $13 million signing bonus and $23 million over the next three seasons.
Branch earned $27,466,840 during four injury-riddled seasons in Seattle from 2006-2009 then came back to Foxboro. Welker has barely been paid that in six seasons in which he caught over 100 passes five times and was franchised once. A year ago, Welker explained not holding out by saying, “I think those techniques work better with other teams. I think the best thing you can do, as far as the Patriots, is be there and let them make the decision if they want to do something long term or not.’’
Does this guy have attention deficit disorder?
When the Patriots play hard ball this offseason, offering him a below-market deal or nothing at all, it may be unwise but no one can blame them. They’re only doing what they’ve always done: reacting to weakness with strength.
If Welker wanted to avoid this he had to boldly go where Mankins, Branch, Seymour and a few others did — which was home. That would have been a #leapoffaith in himself.
Instead, he bet on his team’s largesse — a word that only exists in the dictionary in Foxboro — and so finds himself at the mercy of a team that shows no mercy in such circumstances. Welker was second in the NFL in receptions (118), eighth in yards (1,354) and first in YAC in 2012, but he’s looking at a pay cut or a bon voyage card because he either never learned what real leverage means or lacked the courage to use it.