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Gronkowski and Hernandez's new contracts indicate that they are the offense of the future.
This point is really just common sense: at 31 years old, Welker is making over $9.5 million on a contract that expires at the end of the year. When compared to the Patriots' other top four receivers, it is fairly obvious who New England plans on keeping around.
First and foremost are Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. At 22 and 23 years of age, Hernandez and Gronk are locked up through 2018 and 2019, respectively. The Patriots love the two tight end set they have developed around these guys, so they are not going anywhere for a long time.
Brandon Lloyd is Welker's age at 31, but his contract is two years longer for about half the price of Welker's single season. Fiscally, keeping Lloyd around simply makes more sense.
Like Welker, Julian Edelman's contract expires at the end of this season. He's only 26, however, and everything about him hints at him being Welker's replacement. Prior to being sidelined by a hand injury halfway through Week 3, Edelman was started over Welker in Week 2 and was on the field for 75 snaps compared to Welker's 63.
Those four guys form a solid receiving corps by themselves when healthy, so it is unlikely that the Patriots would feel the need to continue to keep a fifth high-profile receiver around to the tune of $9.5 million per season.