Welker, Brady and the Patriots seem to have a symbiotic relationship, and the receiver runs a huge risk of dying a slow, painful death (metaphorically) if he were to leave via free agency in 2013.
Patriots owner Bob Kraft seemingly understands the significance of this relationship, and he recently made his feelings quite clear on Welker, via ESPN's Darren Rovell:
Pats owner Robert Kraft on Wes Welker: “I love Wes Welker. I hope he remains a Patriot for life. Just like Tom Brady.”— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 11, 2013
The scrappy slot specialist has become one of the league's best receivers since joining the Patriots six years ago. Since that time, he's averaged 112 receptions each year for 1,243 yards and six touchdowns, and he's been the most consistent and reliable receiver Brady's ever had in New England.
That said, he risks being labeled a product of the system should he leave via free agency and fail to produce at the same level he has with Brady and the Pats.
If he signs back on with New England, Welker will surely continue putting up 100-plus catches for 1,000-plus yards on a yearly basis, barring injury.
If he leaves, there's no guarantee he'll come close to putting up those kind of numbers, in which case it will be easy to point to Brady and say, "Brady made Welker into a star."
Welker's best season as a pro before he became a member of the Patriots came in 2006 with the Miami Dolphins. During that season, he caught 67 passes for 687 yards and one touchdown. These are respectable numbers, but they don't come close to his production with the Patriots.
The Patriots want to keep him on in 2013 and beyond, but as Kraft recently said, via the Boston Globe's Shalise Manza Young:
I’d love him to be around as well. He’s a great guy. It takes two sides to make a transaction, and then we have to manage the lawyers and the agents, that they don’t mess it up. I think Wes wants to be with us and we want him here. It’s just a matter of whether both sides can be intelligent.
The intelligent thing for Welker and his agent is to re-sign with New England.
Will Welker re-sign with New England or head to another team in 2013?
If he decides to hit free agency to earn a few extra coins, he could end up losing his legacy as one of the greatest Patriots receivers of all time.
That's not a trade that ultimately benefits him in the long haul.
Welker belongs with the Patriots, and the best thing he can do for himself is sign a long-term deal that will assure he'll retire in New England.
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