With Patriots receiver Wes Welker planning to test the market, the question becomes the outcome of the looming experiment.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Pats remain the favorite to retain Welker. That said, one or two teams could intervene.
“It’s close,” the source explained.
As of Saturday, teams officially can begin talking with the agents of free agents. Unofficially, conversations surely have happened.
Staying in New England presents a stew of conflicting concerns for Welker. He surely wants to continue playing with quarterback Tom Brady, even if every time the sure-handed Welker fails to catch a poorly-thrown ball the media and fans deem it a “drop.”
Then there’s the fact that, before tight end Aaron Hernandez sprained an ankle early in the 2012 regular season, Hernandez appeared to be the team’s new slot receiver, with Welker being phased out. Welker reportedly fears that could happen again.
And the “take less to win more” vibe undoubtedly has made its way into the negotiations, with Brady’s recent contract becoming the $27 million elephant in the room. The Pats know how to get business done on their terms, and if Brady was subtly cajoled into taking less how could anyone else complain?
In the end, Welker has to ask himself whether he wants more money or another chance to finish what the team started in 2007, when he was in his first year of the relatively modest long-term deal that expired after the 2011 season.
Of course, chasing the money also could result in playing with a quarterback whose periodic poor throws won’t be blamed on the guy who wasn’t able to make the difficult catch.