By: Ian Logue
As Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker continues to have a record setting season, he’s certainly making a case for a strong pay day once he finishes out the final year of his contract here in New England.
To this point Welker has outperformed his current deal, which many felt at the time was too much after they gave up a 2nd round pick to Miami to get him, and then signed him to a five-year, $18 million contract in 2007 after they acquired him.
However he’s clearly been a key component to this offense, and without him it’s obvious that they’d be in tough shape. That was apparent during their playoff loss to the Ravens last year, and in all likelihood the 14-2 finish this past season probably wouldn’t have worked out as well without his presence on the field with Deion Branch, along with then-rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Welker battled back from a severe knee injury last season and is off to an even better start this year through six games. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Despite coming back from knee surgery, he finished last year with 86 catches for 848 receiving yards, and this year he’s already closing in on those totals. Through just six games he’s caught 51 passes for 785 yards and six touchdowns during their 5-1 start.
The obvious question now is whether or not that means he’ll be rewarded for his performance with a new contract. During an interview with WEEI on Friday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft discussed the possibility, and hopes Welker will remain in New England.
“First of all, any guy who plays on our team I can look at face to face, and his eyes are at my level, or maybe a tad lower, is pretty exciting,” said Kraft. “He’s just a special guy. He’s a phenomenon. It’s our hope that he’ll be someone who will be with us the rest of his career.”
Welker’s been pretty quiet about his contract situation and has refused to address it. Unlike teammate Logan Mankins, his agent has also avoided saying anything publicly to demand his client be taken care of after everything he’s done for this football team. So far the negotiations – if there have indeed been any discussions – have remained quiet, but Kraft’s comments hinted that it may take a little bit of work to reach a deal that works for both sides.
“You know we’re a team that’s not about trying to encourage and sign people who want the last dollar,” said Kraft. “If money is the most important thing, we’ll have trouble getting a deal done. I just want to say this, whether it’s Wes Welker or Tom Brady or Logan Mankins or any player, when we decide what our limit is on what we can afford to pay a player, it’s not like whatever we don’t pay to that player the Kraft family are putting in their pockets. It’s about trying to build a team and have certain disciplines, and knowing that you need a team of 53 players on your roster.
“So whatever money we don’t give to Wes Welker is going to go to other players to build a team. But he is pretty special and comes from a great family. We couldn’t have asked for a better guy. His performance, what he did last year coming back from the injury, and now doing what he is doing [with] his performance this year, is great.”
The good news is that Brady and Mankins both evnetually received extensions. If all goes well – especially if he continues at his current pace – Welker will also end up with a new deal just as those two guys did.
Kraft obviously likes the fact they meet eye-to-eye when the two stand across from eachother. Hopefully the same will eventually hold true at the negotiating table.
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