Earlier today, we promised to keep you updated on Wes Welker's contract negotiations with the Patriots in the week leading up to the deadline to sign an extension.
Over the weekend, Greg A. Bedard reported that Welker and the Patriots were more than $6 million apart in guaranteed money. However, Bedard's Globe colleague, Shalise Manza Young, reported this morning that the sides were working hard towards a new deal:
While the two sides have been in different places as far as guaranteed money, it is believed that the main hurdle is a third year and how to structure it. The Patriots have been reluctant to go to a three-year deal with the 31-year old receiver, who in five seasons with New England has recorded 554 catches, just three shy of the franchise record set by Troy Brown over 15 years.
Via a league source, it is expected that the two sides will be working hard this week toward getting a deal done.
While it was initially a good sign that the Patriots and Welker, ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio offered a bit of a conflicting report. Florio reports that because of the divide between Welker and the Patriots, there might not even be any talks this week.
As for my thoughts on the third year: I think the Patriots have to give, at least partially, to Welker. Regardless of what the doubters say, Welker is a special player. Whether he's been assisted by the system or not isn't important. No player has ever produced in the system like he has, and there's arguably never been a more productive slot receiver in NFL history.
I'm fairly confident that Welker will be a very productive player over the next two years. While a 33-year-old Welker in 2014 with a high cap number could pose some sort of a risk, I'm inclined to think that the money saved over the next two years will more than make up for that. Keep in mind that the Patriots have a lot of cap space heading into this season, and a Welker deal could save them even more. Also keep in mind that under the new CBA, cap space can be rolled over into the next season. The bottom line: paying Welker now reduces the already minimal risk involved in giving him a third year.