Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Continuing my three part series on what Wes Welker's fate in New England might be - and how the media is likely to see it.
Yesterday I took a look at the likely media spin should the New England Patriots and Wes Welker be unable to come to a deal over the coming weeks and Welker ends up walking. Today, I'm going to take a look at the flip side of the coin and take a guess as to how the Patriots will still be the bad guys even if they were to lock him up with a multi-year, fairly lucrative contract that ensures he is a Patriot for the remainder of the Tom Brady Era.
Scenario 2: The Patriots give Welker a multi-year deal
The Narrative: Why didn't the Patriots do this last year? In an offseason where they have several issues to address, including the long-term future of Sebastian Vollmer, Pat Chung, Julian Edelman, and Danny Woodhead, it seems that waiting until this season to give Welker the contract he deserved last year is just bad business. Welker has proven himself invaluable year in and year out; it's not like the front office was making sure he could still produce before giving him a deal. It seems like New England didn't have a very solid read on the pulse of the team last year and was too focused on the times when Welker didn't come through in the clutch as opposed to the times that he did. Good for them for finally waking up and realizing that Brady is much better with Welker in the slot, but all of this seems to be happening too little, too late.
What they will be ignoring: New England actually tried very hard to give Welker a contract last year, putting several offers on the table that were ultimately turned down. Furthermore, Welker signed his franchise tender fairly early on in the offseason, expressing that while he would like a long-term deal if possible, but "if it's one year, $9.5 million, it's one year, $9.5 million. [He's] good with that." Ultimately, though, the two sides couldn't come to an agreement, and so Welker was content to play out the year in hopes of getting a contract this year. It seemed to be a case of two sides working to come to an agreement, but ultimately couldn't, and so they decided to move on and revisit the matter later. It's not like Welker was bending over backwards to accommodate the team and they simply brushed him off while twirling their waxy black mustaches and petting their cat. Getting a deal done this year would mean that both sides realize how valuable the other one is, work hard to ensure that the relationship continues, and come to an agreement that benefits both the franchise and Welker's long-term security. Neither party will settle on a contract unless they are satisfied with it, and so spinning it like one side (most likely the Patriots) is getting away with highway robbery simply doesn't make sense.
The facts: As I mentioned yesterday, the Patriots giving Wes Welker a contract means that they came to the decision that he is a valuable member of this team that they would like to keep around in the future, and the terms they offered him reflect that value. Welker, perhaps after testing the market and seeing what he would be worth in other cities, decides that the combination of money and playing for a winner is enough to keep him around. I'd also be willing to bet that, if Welker does re-sign in New England, it will be for less money than he probably could have garnered elsewhere. I don't really know what the market is like for a slot receiver on the wrong side of 30, but Welker's production is definitely enough to get him big money for another team that New England will be reluctant to match. What I do know is that, whatever the final number is, it will be just about right, and I won't think that they overpaid anyone.