New England Patriots: Wes Welker Needs to Be the Top Priority

Tony SantorsaSenior Writer IIFebruary 10, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Wide receiver Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots drops a pass late in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Forget Wes Welker's infamous drop in Super Bowl XLVI that would have ultimately sealed the deal for the New England Patriots—he is Tom Brady's go-to man and he needs to remain a Patriot. 

Welker's drop may go down as the biggest drop in the history of the New England Patriots but he will also be remembered as Brady's greatest receiver—even greater than Randy Moss, Deion Branch and Troy Brown.

In all four of Welker's seasons with Tom Brady at quarterback, he has had 100-plus receptions in each of those seasons. To be quite honest, that is pretty unbelievable. 

There is no reliable option out there to replace Welker's production as a Patriot—there is no way he can leave town this offseason. 

Since joining the Patriots in 2007, Welker has recorded 554 receptions, which is the most in that span—he has 80 more than the next closest man and there are four players that are within 100 of his total in that time period—that's how dominant Welker has been in a Patriots uniform. 

Welker will turn 31 this May and has yet to show any real sign of aging and seeing his skills diminish—nor do I expect them to. 

If Welker were to test the open waters of free agency, he would certainly receive a ton of interest and possibly field in offers ranging from $35 million to even $60 million. 

New England currently holds exclusive negotiation rights with Welker from now until March 13—and the two parties need to strike a new, long-term deal in that time frame. 

If things don't necessarily go as planned, New England will have until March 5 to place the franchise tag on Welker—which could be a one-year solution or just another way to buy more time with Welker and his agent to negotiate a deal. 

There is no way getting around it, but the Patriots are a better team with Welker on their roster and it's an absolute must to re-sign him. Bill Belichick cannot expect to let Welker walk and to replace him with a receiver that's looking for lesser money—remember Joey Galloway or even Doug Gabriel? Or how about more recently Chad Ochocinco? My point proven.

Belichick cannot let Welker walk and then attempt to replace him with a receiver that will likely struggle gaining a relationship with Brady as well as grasping New England's offensive playbook.

Welker doesn't only produce on the field at a top-tier level, but he's a locker room guy. He's the kind of guy that you want in your locker room. He's a team player.

Following Super Bowl XLVI when Welker was asked about his late fourth-quarter drop, he didn't put the blame on anyone else besides himself, He could have said that it was an off throw by Brady or he could of even dug deeper and brought up Jerod Mayo's game stats or even Rob Gronkowski's game stats—that's just not Welker.

Welker simply faced the media and maned up and ultimately put the blame all on himself. 

Now that Welker has been to two Super Bowls with the Patriots and having lost both of them to the New York Giants, he will be as hungry as ever—if that's even possible. 

Now let's throw this all together: Welker's incredible production, his great team-first attitude as well as his intensity, competitiveness and huger to win—what does that come out to? A perfect Patriot.

Wes Welker is a perfect Patriot. 


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Be sure to check out Tony Santorsa's blog: PatriotsPlus