Everybody take a deep breath and relax.
My advice: Ignore the noise that dominates this time of year because things happen so quickly.
The bottom line is this: Not much has changed since my offseason primer piece — Welker is expected to remain with the Patriots on a new multiyear contract at some point, according to multiple sources. Yes, anything can happen when a player hits free agency, but the odds are strong that he remains with the Patriots. It would be an upset if that didn’t happen.
Don’t read anything into the fact that a deal hasn’t been done yet. It means nothing.
As for Jason Cole’s Yahoo! report on the Welker situation, I had a few thoughts on that as well:
- First off, Cole is one of the best. Been a mentor of mine since my South Florida days. He doesn’t write for clicks or attention, unlike some people out there;
- What he wrote was accurate, but some of the stuff is dated;
- Welker had “mild disdain” – actually, a lot more than mild – for what happened early in the season (specifically the Arizona game) and it did stick in his craw for most of the season. I didn’t write he was being phased out for no reason. But, Welker and Bill Belichick got past that at some point during the season. I think the team began to see Welker in a new light after everyone else kept getting hurt, yet Welker endured, and so did the offense;
- Welker never complained internally or externally about what was going on, which earns points from the Patriots;
- Yes, last season did leave a little paranoia in the Welker camp about how the team sees him. But that’s also a byproduct of the way Belichick operates. There isn’t much communication from him on what’s going on and why, Belichick just expects the player to fill the role they tell him to;
- The improved relations between the team and Welker was the impetus for the story that I wrote before the Texans’ playoff game. Both sides have largely moved past that. But Welker isn’t just going to forget that. However, like I said, that’s in the past and both sides are in a new place.
I expect Welker to remain with the Patriots. Is there a chance it might not happen? Sure. The sides got very close to a deal last year after Welker signed his franchise tag, but couldn’t get it done. This does not seem like the same situation. I think the Patriots have chosen their path, and it’s only a matter of time before it gets done.