The lines were pretty easy to read through on this one. The Patriots don’t think Wes Welker has much left in the tank and were more than willing to let him walk to an AFC rival. How else can one explain giving Danny Amendola a bigger contract?
Not to rip on Amendola’s potential here, but the Patriots got this one wrong and will regret letting one, of if not the best, receiver in franchise history leave.
It’s hard to imagine how the team envisions Welker eroding into a shell of his former self. Sure he’s taken quite a few hits over the years but he has been one of the most durable and reliable players in the entire NFL in his six years with the Patriots. Simply put, Welker still brings more to the table than any other player the team brings in to play the slot and has shown no signs of slowing down, as is evident in his 118 reception, 1,354 yard season in 2012.
The seeds of a Welker departure were planted last offseason and early last season. On opening day against the Titans, Welker saw a reduced role in the offense and did not see his playing time increase until Aaron Hernandez went down with a knee injury in week two. It now seems obvious that the team was trying to prepare for life without Welker.
This move does not look like a contract squabble. The Patriots correctly predicted the market for Welker, better than Welker himself as a two-year $10M contract was closer to what Welker was going to get than the three-year $24M deal he wanted. But just because the team knew the market better is not an excuse to let him go. They still could have brought him back at a contract less than three-years and $24M.