Welker a Bronco, Amendola a Patriot
Thursday, March 14, 2013
They didn't want him.
No one is quite sure why, but the New England Patriots didn't want Wes Welker.
How else can you explain what happened Wednesday when Welker agreed to a 2-year deal worth $12 million with AFC rival Denver. Not $12 million per season, mind you, that's $12 million total!
Patriots' owner Bob Kraft can say whatever he wants, but he was being more than a bit disingenuous when he said that he "wanted Welker to be a Patriot for life" like Tom Brady.
Word is that New England's take-it-or-leave-it offer to Welker was for 2 years and worth a total of $10 million. That's $4.4 million paycut from the $9.4 million Welker earned on the franchise tag this past season where he only managed to catch 118 passes for 1,354 yards and 6 TD's. That offer by the Patriots can only be interpreted one way: they wanted him to leave.
Maybe we all should have seen the writing on the wall when the team inexplicably kept Welker on the bench for half of the teams offensive plays in the first few games of the season while featuring the likes of Julian Edelman and TE Aaron Hernandez. It wasn't until Hernandez injured his ankle that Welker again became a featured part of their offense.
We all understand that the Patriots run their organization like a business and have a certain price for every player and every position on the team. We are left to assume that they will not deviate from that philosophy for fear of having the organization slip into mediocrity.
But this wasn't a situation where they needed to "break the bank" to keep Welker. You mean to tell me that they couldn't have offered Welker 2-years at $14 million? That wouldn't have blown their salary structure by any means.
History has proven that the Patriots usually get along just fine after parting ways with beloved and productive veteran players like Welker. In fact, one could argue that the only player they allowed to leave that they did not adequately replace was cornerback Assante Samuel.
But that's not the point.
Welker didn't have to leave. And he certainly didn't have to go to Denver where the Patriots primary competition for AFC supremacy in 2013 resides.
It will be interesting to see how the organization spins his departure, but it appears to be a PR battle that they cannot win.
Will Danny Amendola (6-years, $31 million with $10 million guaranteed) be a good replacement for Welker? Probably. But the franchise gave up on a sure thing and someone who had a chance to go down in Patriots and NFL history as one of the greatest of all-time for a player that has has had a problem staying healthy and on the field as Welker has for so many years.
So Bob Kraft can say whatever he wants about Wes Welker or any other player whom he "wants to remain a Patriot for life" but he would be lying. For if we have learned anything, it is that unless your last name is Brady, you are expendable in the eyes of the Patriots franchise.