Wes Welker signed a 2 year, $12 million deal with the Denver Broncos. After much drama with the Patriots over the past few days, he has finally turned down the Patriots and decided to go to Peyton Manning. Now that the madness over this is over, lets take a chance to think about everything this situation has told us about the Patriots. There are 3 possibilities:
The Patriots didn’t want Wes back. This is obvious now. Either this or the management had no clue what the cap situation was. How else could the Patriots not counter-offer Denver’s measly $6M/yr to Welker (Patriots offered $10M for 2 years, Broncos offered $12M for 2 years)? This shows that the Patriots obviously have a well thought-out backup plan for losing Wes, or that they want to change up the offense. We already know that the Patriots had a backup plan for Welker judging on the interest in Danny Amendola, and Hernandez moving close to Brady in California to learn how to become a slot receiver.
Changing up the offense is necessary to a team every once in a while, even the Patriots, the best offense in the league. Last year’s troubles were overshadowed by their accomplishments, but at times they were very noticeable. The Patriots don’t have a deep threat receiver to challenge defenses and stretch out the field. Because of this, they rely primarily on short to mid-range passes to get the job done. If these types of passes can lead to the Patriots getting the title of the best offense in the league, who knows what they could accomplish if they had a deep threat. Brandon Lloyd was supposed to be the deep receiver for the Patriots last season, but it didn’t quite work out. If the Patriots were to acquire a deep threat, then the field could be stretched out and less emphasis could be put on short passes. The Patriots new slot receiver, Danny Amendola, is much less durable than Welker is and it would be smart not to give him the ball a lot.
The Patriot’s two tight end system seems to be dominating their offensive mentality (even though Gronk and Hernandez weren’t on the field together for much time due to injuries). This could pair up with any set of wide outs. Back to the deep threat point, with two tight ends on the field and a receiver going deep, there would be much more opportunities for big plays. This is exactly where Wes Welker doesn’t fit. He is good primarily in the short passing game, a place where the Patriots couldn’t get out of for many years. By signing Danny Amendola, a young talent, and now making room for a deep threat WR, the Patriots may ultimately succeed in fully transforming their offense by next season.
The Patriots probably want to spend more on defense. Defense is obviously an area of need for the Patriots. Their secondary gave up a huge number of big plays (I don’t even want to bring up the numbers). It was sort of balanced out with Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard at CB, and Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory and Safety. But even their improved secondary wasn’t enough to keep some teams at bay (49ers, Ravens). They could use all this extra money to sign back Talib, possibly another cornerback, and maybe another safety.
The Patriots screwed up. This is the answer no one wants to hear (except Patriot-haters). If the Patriots really did mess up and really wanted to sign Welker back, this was a pretty bad way to screw-up then. For only $1.5M/year more they could have had Wes back next year, and maybe the next. The organization has always mistreated him and doubted him, and now, it was time for his revenge. He stuck it to the Patriots and signed with the Broncos, who the Patriots are playing next season, and now probably has a passion to beat his former team. Even Tom Brady was angry about the Patriots not signing back Welker (can you blame him? Wes is his favorite target).
Spoke to someone close to Tom Brady. Beyond enraged at contract details that netted Broncos Wes Welker. “Disgrace””disservice” were used.
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) March 13, 2013
As with every other Patriots fan, I’m disappointed by the news on Welker too (disappointed may be an understatement). But with all the hints that this offseason has given us, there could still be something to look forward to next season.