Inside the Numbers: A Look Into Wes Welker's Incredible Start

Derek Havens
October 04, 2011 at 12:53pm ET

Rob Gronkowski announced on Instagram he will be back with Patriots for 2018 season
Rob Gronkowski tells Patriots he will play this season
Filling the Patriots' needs: No. 3: Quarterbacks
Buckley: On Boston sports stock market — buy Sox, sell Gronk
Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta could fit in with the Patriots

Through four games this season, Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker has been incredible. His production, effectiveness and importance to New England's offense is on pace to make history.

Patriots receiver Wes Welker has hauled in a league leading 40 receptions and 616 yards so far this season. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

In the first four games, Welker has had 40 receptions for 616 yards and five touchdowns. In terms of receptions and yards, Welker's total is the most by any player through four games in league history. The receiver is on pace for an incredible 160 catches, 2,464 yards and 20 touchdowns. While I do not believe he can reach those statistics, there is no doubt in Patriots Nation that he is one of the key members on offense.

Specifically, on Sunday's game in Oakland, Pats QB Tom Brady only had 16 completions on the day. Of those 16 completions, nine of those were to Welker and the second leading wide out, Chad Ochocinco, had only two catches for 26-yards.

With tight-end Aaron Hernandez out with a MCL sprain the past two weeks, Brady lost one of his favorite targets. The reigning MVP QB has relied heavily on Welker during this time. One example of this, through the last two weeks, Welker has 25 receptions, all other receivers have a combined total of 21.

The Brady to Welker connection has obviously been prevalent this year, in fact, Brady has targeted the wide out 57 times.

"Wes, because of his skill set, can run a lot of different parts of the route tree" Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said Tuesday afternoon. "(It) allows him to get open quite a bit."

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Welker leads the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards. While the sure-handed receiver is on a historical tear, it should be noted he is in a "contract year" with New England and is a free agent at the end of the season.

I am sure his contract will be one of the team's top priorities over the off-season and as it stand now, Welker is in for a hefty pay raise. As it stands now, the Patriots receiver makes $2.5 million. To put his salary in perspective, other receivers such as Santonio Holmes or Brandon Marshall, make $9.5 and $8.25 million respectively.

For now, Patriots fans can only hope Welker and the team continue their early season success.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!