They don't want to pay him
Welker wanted a long-term deal from the Patriots in the offseason and didn't get one, settling instead for the team's franchise player tag. While he's being paid as one of the game's top receivers this season, the Patriots haven't committed to Welker beyond this year. Might they be driving his price down for next offseason by playing him less? Could the Patriots retain Welker at a discount if other teams aren't as interested in his services?