The spotlight of speculation regarding the target of Colts owner Jim Irsay’s Twitter trade chatter has scanned all corners of the NFL. To date, no specific name has emerged clearly and reliably as the most likely player to possibly become the latest member of Indy’s team.
Some have suggested that the Patriots could be sending receiver Wes Welker to their once-and-possibly-future arch-rivals, a suggestion that gathered momentum after Welker was held out of practice on Thursday and out of the Patriots’ preseason game on Friday. Although Welker fits the picture that Irsay painted (high draft pick as compensation, “serious vet/starter”), Irsay wouldn’t be breaking out the checkbook for Welker.
Irsay wouldn’t, because Irsay couldn’t. Welker is a franchise player. After July 16, he can’t sign a long-term deal with the Patriots, or anyone else.
While it doesn’t make a trade impossible, it makes a new contract impossible until the end of the 2012 regular season. Which makes it very hard to justify sacrificing a high pick without any protection beyond the coming season.
That same reasoning applies to any other franchise players who are operating under one-year tenders, like Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Whoever it is, no one is talking. Except for Irsay. But he’s not talking enough for anyone to make complete sense of it.
Then again, on Twitter, Irsay rarely does.