The report over the weekend that the Patriots and Wes Welker are $6 million apart on the guaranteed money they think Welker should get on a new contract makes it seem unlikely that Welker will sign before the July 16 deadline for franchise players to sign long-term contracts. But with a week to go, both sides plan a week of trying to work out a deal.
A league source tells Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe that the two sides will be working hard this week toward getting a deal done.
However, it’s fair to ask whether any amount of hard work is really going to bridge the $6 million gap between the two sides. Welker may be calculating that anything less than $20.933 million guaranteed in the first two years of the contract is simply not enough, considering that he’ll get $9.515 million guaranteed this year as the franchise player and would get at least $11.418 million if the Patriots use the franchise tag on him again next year. But the Patriots may have decided that they’re not going to guarantee him that much because they don’t know for sure if they’ll franchise him again next year — if Welker gets hurt this season or starts to show signs that he’s on the decline at age 31, the Patriots could decide to let him test free agency.
So it makes sense for both sides to spend the next week looking for a long-term solution that can satisfy everyone. But they might find out after a week of hard work that there’s simply no number that Welker will accept and the Patriots will pay.