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Wes Welker has notched over 100 catches and over 1,000 yards in five of his six seasons with the Patriots. Still, despite his stunning production, he's only playing under a one-year contract. When the offseason hits, he'll be right back at square one.
Aside from his age (31), the real issue here is the contrast between his regular season production (which is stunning) and his playoff production (which isn't as stunning).
Last season, Welker topped 100 yards in eight different games. He also totaled nine touchdowns. But in New England's three postseason games, Welker never topped 60 yards, nor did he score in Super Bowl XLVI (he didn't score in Super Bowl XLII either).
Welker's stark contrast is symbolic of the struggles that have plagued the Patriots for years. The Patriots averaged 36.8 points per game in 2007, then scored only 14 points in Super Bowl XLII. They averaged 32.1 points per game in 2011, then scored only 17 points in Super Bowl XLVI.
These discrepancies aren't Welker's fault, but it still puts him in a jam during contract negotiations.
The fact remains: The Patriots haven't won in the Welker era. If the Patriots intend to give big contracts to players who help them win championships, then how much can Welker really be worth?
The evidence proves that Welker's true worth comes during the regular season, where he dominates with an iron fist and led the team to a phenomenal regular season record and a first-round bye.
This guy is tough as nails and as reliable as sunrise. He'll put the team in a great playoff position.
That alone is reason enough for the Patriots to target him as a free agent in 2013.
But a critical hiccup still exists: If the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl this year, will the team commit to Welker? As of now, his lack of playoff dominance is still a monkey on his back.
The easiest way for Welker to solve this whole problem is to get the job done by staying dominant in the playoffs, dictating the flow of these upcoming games and controlling the pace to lead the Patriots to a world championship.
If he can do that, he'll have the opportunity to remain in New England where he belongs.
All he has to do now is win.