NFL Free Agents 2012: Why Patriots Are Foolish to Toy with Wes Welker

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 31:  Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots answers questions from the media during Media Day ahead of Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 31, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Bill Belichick is always going to do things his way. Unfortunately, his way hasn't yielded a Super Bowl championship in the last seven years. He's been there twice, but has been foiled by Eli Manning and the New York Giants each time.

Belichick's "way" has always been highly controversial. He gets away with it, for the most part, by being successful.

Although he wins a lot of games, losing Super Bowls doesn't equate to success in the NFL. Rest assured, Belichick will tell you the very same.

And now, according to Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe, the Pats are going to play hardball with their most important weapon.

On Armando Salguero's radio show, Armando and Perkins, the beat writer said of the Pats' plans for Welker:

He's going to be (franchise) tagged, that I know for pretty much certain. If they don't, he's going to sign with the Jets and they're going to have to try and cover him twice a year, or the Dolphins...They want him back. I don't see why things would change now, but the way it stood before the Super Bowl, they're going to tag him.

And this is a terribly dangerous road for Belichick to travel down—again.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches from the sideline during the game against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Pats already went through this with Logan Mankins once before.

It is understandable if Belichick doesn't want to invest too much money into Welker because of durability issues, but running the risk of him holding out for the first seven weeks of the season is a nightmare scenario.

We know Belichick certainly won't be bullied, but Welker has done more than enough to earn a payday from this team.

Owner Robert Kraft is not going to involve himself in football decisions, but this is one where he might want to exercise the fact that he owns the team.

The NFL's leading receiver has caught over 100 passes for over 1,000 yards in all but one season during his run in New England.

There simply aren't many receivers that can do that. He's not interchangeable. Belichick has to know this.

He is 30 years old, and he is injury prone, but he's too valuable to the Patriots offense for Belichick to pull this stunt again.

The one thing we know about Welker is that he is a fighter. If Belichick burns him, Welker will haunt him.