The Patriots and wide receiver Wes Welker are reportedly making progress toward a new contract, which helps explain why the Patriots opted not to use their franchise tag on Welker even as a way to buy time for a new contract.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that Welker is weighing a couple of different issues as he decides where to sign on for 2013 and beyond. One is whether he’d rather stay in a familiar role and offense with the Patriots for less money than he might be offered from another team and the other is whether that familiar role has been replaced by another one.
Cole spoke to a source close to Welker who said that Welker is still “miffed” about the limited playing time and targets he received early last season. It’s left him with “mild disdain” for the team and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and reportedly stuck “in his craw” all season. What’s more, Cole reports that there’s “a little paranoia” in Welker’s camp about what his role in the offense would be if Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are healthy all season.
Welker wound up with 118 catches last year, so it’s not like the early playing time was indicative of the way things went over the entire season. With Julian Edelman also heading for free agency and Brandon Lloyd reportedly on thin ice with the team, there’s a fair chance that Welker will be the only receiver with meaningful experience in the Patriots’ offense on the roster heading into next season.
That doesn’t exactly set the stage for a limited role in the offense, but we’ll find out soon enough which way the wind is blowing in regard to Welker.