With news leaking this morning that the New England Patriots have agreed to a contract extension with tight end Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots now have both members of their young tight-end duo locked up long term.
While this is terrific news for the Hernandez, the Patriots and New England fans, one person who may not take the news well is wide receiver Wes Welker.
With two tight ends now with big contracts and Tom Brady still working through a four-year $72 million deal, the question now becomes this: Do the Patriots have enough money to keep Welker?
Welker's impact on the team and his skill as a wide receiver are beyond question, as he has racked up four 100-reception seasons in his time in New England. Welker has also been elected to numerous All-Pro teams and Pro Bowl squads, while helping New England reach two Super Bowls.
But with Welker chasing a contract paying him top dollar, it seems as though the Patriots may have to part ways with him unless he lessens his demands.
The Patriots simply do not have the cap space to pay Welker eight figures a year while keeping adequate players at other positions.
Can the Patriots still sign Welker?
Throw in the fact that Julian Edelman, Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez himself can do much of what Welker does, and the case to sign Welker gets even weaker.
Furthermore the Patriots have several younger players who are in line for contract extensions in the near future. Devin McCourty, Sebastian Vollmer, Brandon Spikes and Patrick Chung are a few Patriots whose contracts expire in the next two seasons and thoroughly deserve bigger contracts.
All things considered it seems as if this may be the final year for Wes Welker in New England. Unless he drops his demands, the Patriots will most likely franchise him and trade him away next season.
It's an unfortunate part of football, but sometimes it is necessary.
Hopefully things work out between the Patriots and Welker, as he has been a model of consistency in his time in New England and truly one of the best players in the National Football League.