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Losing Welker not worth the cost

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  March 13, 2013 06:23 PM

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Two years?

Twelve million?

Bob Kraft wanted Wes Welker to be a Patriot for life, huh?

One of two thoughts will prove to be true when it comes to the laughable negotiations the Patriots conducted with Welker, one of the best wide receivers to don either Pat Patriot or the Flying Elvis.

1. The Patriots didn’t want him. Maybe Danny Amendola is a suitable replacement, and funds can be filtered elsewhere in order to rebuild the defense.

Maybe.

2. Welker gave the Patriots a chance to match the Denver Broncos’ offer with the full intent that he was going to stick it to Bill Belichick one last time, in the grandest of fashion.

Maybe.

Whatever the unfathomable reason, Welker is gone, and at a price that Bob Kraft probably collects from Toby Keith’s cheesy restaurant on an annual basis in taxes at Patriot Place. OK, not really, but seriously? Two years at $12 million?

Clearly the answer to the debate is No. 1. The Patriots didn’t want Welker anymore, even at a discounted price nobody thought possible.

Why?

There might as well be a moat around Patriot Place, not just because it’s impossible to get any information out of the front offices rather than by via flaming arrow, but because it is an impenetrable fortress that can not be assaulted without the defense of the See No Evil Army, sitting in section 103 ready to pounce on any and all criticism of “In Bill we trust.” Cue the Buckner-Welker jokes.

Whatever you think about Welker's oopsies in the playoffs the last two years, it is indeed the Patriots who choked on this one. This wasn’t a matter of Tom Brady being too dependent on Randy Moss. This was a guy who not only consistently moved the chains, but more importantly, was dependable. Name another wide receiver who took more licks than Welker did over his last six years here without any major injury and I’ll show you a moose with cow’s skin. And it would have taken two years?

At $12 million?

Why did Brady restructure his contract again?

So much for that much-ballyhooed three-year deal making the rounds last week. But I do suppose if there’s any benefit to Welker agreeing with the Broncos, it’s that we’re finally finished with the back-and-forth media reports about his contract. This drama had more rumors and cattiness than “Mean Girls” and “Mean Girls 2” combined.

Welker is gone. Tom E. Curran is reporting that Brady’s camp is livid. Hey, join the club.

Brady to Moss and Welker was magical in 2007, obviously. How about the other first-year guys brought in here? Is Amendola going to slide right into the Welker role because he looks like him? How did Brady get along with Brandon Lloyd? Chad Johnson? Joey Galloway?

With Welker, there was a familiarity that didn’t border on the overwhelming comfort that became evident with Moss in the end. The Patriots drove the field as Brady and Welker worked the defense. Can tight end Aaron Hernandez - working with Brady in the offseason in California - easily transition to be the Patriots’ slot guy? Sure. Can he stay on the field?

Maybe.

But those personnel projections are a ways away, especially considering we don’t yet know the Patriots’ free agent or draft plans. But Wes Welker is gone. For $12 million. And that calls into question what exactly the Patriots are doing. Are they going to waste Brady’s final years in a Patriots’ uniform, or do they still want to puff their collective chests for winning with mid-level value?

If I’m Brady, assuming that he didn’t know this was a possibility, which I bet he did, I am furious. The Patriots, whether it be a philosophical offensive shift or mere pettiness, look awfully cheap right now.

Of course, that won't be the case here. It will be about the drops and disrespecting Belichick ("It's nice to stick it in Bill's face") that Patriots fans will tend to remember, kicking Welker on his way out as we tend to do all athletes who depart via Logan. Two years, $12 million. Good thing those casino talks broke off or the Patriots may not be able to retain Red Rooster.

Still, Welker is gone. Reche Caldwell on Line 1.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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