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New England Patriots Links 3/15/12 - As Free Agent WRs Cash In, Will Welker Get His Deal?

<em>Wes Welker deserves to get paid, but it's unclear whether the Patriots will be the team that pays him</em>.
Wes Welker deserves to get paid, but it's unclear whether the Patriots will be the team that pays him.

Mike Reiss offers his opinion on the Pats free-agent signing of DL Jonathan Fanene.

In agreeing to a free-agent contract with Bengals defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene, the Patriots played the role of the sniper. The team and Fanene agreed to a three-year, $12 million deal, with a $3.85 million signing bonus, without Fanene even visiting Gillette Stadium.

The lack of a free-agent visit for Fanene speaks to how the Patriots had him in their sights from the opening of free agency on Tuesday.

Fanene was a player they identified weeks ago as a primary target because of a combination of affordability, versatility, production and need.

Summing up the move: This isn't a sizzling free-agent signing, but it's a smart one.

Kirk Minihane tells us why a long-term deal for Wes Welker doesn't make sense for the Patriots.

... If he’s pissed about [not having a long-term contract, after all he's done], he has every right to be. Wes Welker is twice the football player Vincent Jackson is on Jackson’s best day. DeSean Jackson signed a $51 million contract on Wednesday. Yup, the same guy who was deactivated for skipping a team meeting and was benched for basically showing no balls against the Patriots last season while dropping a pair of TD passes (Welker had eight catches for 115 yards and two TDs in the same game) just got handed $51 million dollars strictly on potential. Forget about not being able to carry Wes Welker’s jock, DeSean Jackson wouldn’t even put forward the effort to try.

... Here’s the thing, though — it’s not going to change. We’ve now passed the point where a long-term deal makes sense for either side, really. If Welker (and agent David Dunn) are looking at these deals and truly believe that kind of money is what is deserved, they will never get it from Bill Belichick. Not going to happen.

The Patriots (meaning Belichick, of course) will correctly tell Welker and Dunn, in probably a kinder way, that just because the Buccaneers and Redskins are represented by morons who clearly overpaid for wide receiver value doesn’t mean the Patriots will follow down the path to dopedom.

... It’s a business, and right now it doesn’t make a lot of business sense to pay Welker what he deserves for three or four years. You slap him with the franchise tag and wait and see what happens. If it turns out that he’s again terrific they can hit him with the tag again in 2013. That’ll be about $11.5 million (120 percent of his 2012 salary), which would be $21 million guaranteed over two years. Could he do better on the open market? Maybe, but not by much. And if he blows out his knee or suffers a drop in production you can a) let him walk or b) potentially sign him to a more reasonable deal.

The Patriots are absolutely making the correct business decision here — at this point their hands are tied three times over. Assuming Welker doesn’t take a hometown discount (and $16 million for two years was serious lowball stuff before these crazy contracts were handed out, now it looks like a complete joke) it’s a no-brainer. Why hand out $30 million at once when you can wait and see what happens year-by-year?

And perhaps Welker does take a discount to say here, maybe he looks at Brady and Belichick and all the other stuff and realizes he’ll never be in a better situation. And maybe there is a middle ground. But if he and Dunn look at Vincent Jackson and Calvin Johnson and think that’s the template, they are going to be disappointed.