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Wes Welker Rumors: Latest on the Patriots, Bears and More

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Wes Welker Rumors: Latest on the Patriots, Bears and More

Veteran wide receiver Wes Welker has been a staple of the potent New England Patriots offensive unit for six seasons, but at 31 years old—32 by the start of the 2013 season—and an impending free agent, the rumors about where he will play next season are running rampant.

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While many fans in the New England area hope that the team swallows its pride and signs the talented possession receiver to a long-term deal, there are some in the NFL community that believe there has been too much damage done this season.

Welker will likely hit the open market as one of the most coveted free agents of 2013.

After not being franchise-tagged Monday (h/t Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com), the two sides must work out a deal or risk ending their relationship on a sour note.

 

UPDATE: Wednesday, March 13, 4:15 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky

Wes Welker is giving the Patriots a chance to match the Broncos' offer, according to Mike Giardi of Comcast SportsNet New England:

---End of update---


UPDATE: Wednesday, March 13, 3:38 p.m. ET by Richard Langford 

Wes Welker to the Broncos is quickly picking up steam, and judging by the below tweet by the Boston Globe's Greg Bedard, an announcement of a deal may not be that far off:

 

 

UPDATE: Wednesday, March 13, 2:55 p.m. ET by Richard Langford 

Wes Welker might be on the verge of switching quarterbacks from Tom Brady to Peyton Manning. ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted

 

---End of update---


UPDATE: Wednesday, March 13, 11:22 a.m. ET by Donald Wood 

Despite the talk of the New England Patriots looking to re-sign veteran wide receiver Wes Welker (h/t Peter King of Sports Illustrated), the latest report from Ron Borges of the Boston Herald is that there is no plan to bring Welker back to the team in 2013:

Wes Welker is off the reservation and the whisper is he finally realized yesterday the Patriots don’t really want him back after their first offer came in laughably low, according to someone familiar with it. Now Welker will explore the league with the understanding that despite what the owner says if the Patriots really liked him — really, really liked him — they would have already signed him.

NFL Network’s Albert Breer also confirms Welker’s league-wide availability:

---End of update---

 

UPDATE: Monday, March 11, 10:40 a.m. ET by Donald Wood

According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, the feeling around the NFL is that veteran wide receiver Wes Welker will return to the New England Patriots next season:

“…Wes Welker (widely believed to be staying in New England)...”

---End of update---

 

UPDATE: Wednesday, March 6, 9:05 a.m. ET by Donald Wood 

While there were reports that Welker and the Patriots were working on a long-term deal, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Welker has no plans to re-sign with New England until after he tests the free-agency market:

---End of update---

 

UPDATE: Tuesday, March 5, 12:04 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

The Patriots and veteran wide receiver Wes Welker are reportedly working on a new long-term deal that would keep quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite target in New England for years to come, according to Mike Giardi of CSNNE:

Wes Welker and the Patriots are closing in on a multi-year contract that would allow Welker to finish his career in New England. An NFL source says that the two sides are hoping to have something finalized before the onset of free agency on March 12.

---End of update---

 

UPDATE: Tuesday, March 5, 10:44 a.m. ET by Donald Wood

Despite Welker's monster receiving numbers over his career, Ed Werder reported on ESPN’s SportsCenter that the free-agent market will not feature many teams interested in the soon-to-be 32-year-old.

Per Werder (h/t Rotoworld):

People I've talked to around the league think that the Patriots have made a wise move here. That there's not gonna be a huge demand on the market for Wes Welker. He'll get a minimal number of teams interested in him and probably be no more valuable to anybody than he is to Tom Brady. ... I think Welker's gonna in all likelihood return (to Foxboro).

---End of update---

 

Trouble in Paradise?

Elsa/Getty Images

Wes Welker and the New England Patriots have been a match made in heaven over the last six years, with the former Miami Dolphin hauling in 672 receptions in that time, but the relationship between the player and team may not be as picture perfect as it appears.

According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the upcoming free agent reportedly still has hard feelings about the way he was used in Week 1 of the 2012 regular season and how it could be a sign of the future:

Welker apparently is a little miffed at how he was treated in last year's opener, when offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had him targeted for a season-low five pass attempts that resulted in a season-low three receptions.

That bit of tweaking stuck in Welker's craw all season. So did the notion that if tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski hadn't both gotten hurt at different times, there's a strong belief that Welker would have been limited to far fewer than the 118 receptions he finished with last season. In short, there's a little paranoia in the Welker camp these days about his role with the Pats.

The concerns for Welker about the team limiting his playing time are legitimate, and despite being Tom Brady’s favorite target and one of the biggest keys to the Patriots’ success, there is a chance that the Patriots really are trying to slowly eliminate the veteran receiver from the game plan.

Before Welker considers signing a deal with New England, he will likely have to be reassured that he will continue to be a focal point of the high-powered Patriots offense.

 

Negotiating a New Contract?

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Despite the rumors of issues in the Welker camp about the way the receiver was treated last season, there are reportedly contract negotiations between the Patriots and the star player, and progress has been made on a new deal.

While no agreement has been reached between the team and the receiver to this point, Tom E. Curran of CSNNE claims “progress has been made on getting a new deal.”

New England made it clear with Tom Brady's three-year, $27 million extension (h/t ESPN) that he will retire with the Patriots, and Welker should be there as well.

With the money the franchise saved in Brady’s deal and the possibility of Welker continuing to play with arguably the most consistent quarterback in the NFL, the veteran wide receiver and the team must hammer out a deal to keep the pass-catching machine in Foxboro.

 

Welker to…Chicago?

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

When a receiver puts up the kind of offensive numbers Welker has over the course of his career, there will undoubtedly be a market for his services if he chooses to hit free agency.

One team already reportedly interested is the Chicago Bears.

According to John Mullin of CSNChicago, “Welker was linked to the Bears via one rumor despite the organization having invested three high draft choices in the position last season (two No. 3’s in trade for Brandon Marshall, drafting Alshon Jeffery in round 2).”

Mullin isn’t the only one pondering the rumored deal, as Rotoworld’s Evan Silva forecasts Welker could sign with the Bears on a three-year, $27 million contract.

Signing a free agent like Welker would be a huge coup for the Bears, and he would turn Chicago’s offense into a dangerous unit. Imagine Welker taking the short routes and Brandon Marshall taking the lid off a defense.

As expensive as this move would be for the Bears, if Welker hits the free-agent market, the team must kick the tires on the veteran.

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