Burke: Patriots need sense of urgency with Welker gone

Wes Welker is headed to the Mile High city. It's the Patriots time to act.
Wes Welker is headed to the Mile High city. It’s the Patriots time to act.

When Tom Brady re-signed with the Patriots for a bargain basement deal last month, it was widely believed that the team would turn around and spend that extra cash on a player that could elevate the team’s current status as one of the handful of best teams in the NFL to a sure-fire Super Bowl favorite.

As of Wednesday night, the Patriots haven’t followed through on their end of the perceived bargain. That could certainly still change at any hour, but until that happens the Patriots will rightfully be blasted in the media and by fans for letting the most productive receiver in the history of the franchise bolt town. In case you haven’t heard, Wes Welker agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal Wednesday to join rival Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver.

According to several reports, Bill Belichick and the Pats’ brass didn’t work all that hard to keep No. 83 in Foxboro. Albert Breer, of NFL Network, tweeted moments after news of Welker’s departure broke: “My understanding is the Patriots’ final and only recent offer was $10M over two years with incentives. Didn’t make a big effort to keep him.”

Comcast New England’s Tom E. Curran spoke with someone close to Tom Brady moments after the news broke and the source was “enraged” and used words such as “disgrace” and “disservice” regarding the contract details.

For months, both the anti-Welker and pro-Welker camps had great talking points throughout this whole “keep-him,” “let him bolt” saga. Yes, he will be 32-years-old when the 2013 season begins and yes, in the Patriots’ two most recent playoff losses Welker had huge drops. Still, there has been next to nothing to suggest that Welker’s ungodly production as the Pats’ slot receiver would cease over the next few years. Welker had been Brady’s security blanket since he was traded to New England from the Dolphins in 2007 and one could easily make the case that Welker was the best slot receiver in NFL history during his tenure with the Pats. There were five seasons with over 110 catches here. No other player in NFL history has more than two seasons with that type of production.

But this whole contract thing with Welker was never really about production. He could have caught 300 balls last season and things wouldn’t have changed much from the Patriots’ perspective. This thing has always been about “value” with the Patriots front office and whether or not they could get a good deal at a particular position.

The bottom line is that they don’t think slot receiver Wes Welker is worth $12 million over two years. And, really, that should be fine with everyone … on one condition:

Spend that extra cash you’ve got lying around NOW. Not next summer when Brady will be closing in on 37 years of age. Not the summer after when he’ll be yet another year older.

NOW, when the AFC is basically there for the taking. NOW, when Brady is in the first year of this final deal. NOW, when Rob Gronkowski and Hernandez are entering their primes. NOW, when the defense needs multiple, heady veterans to reach that next level.

The Patriots can still figure out a way to be, above and beyond, the Super Bowl favorite when camp begins in July. But make no mistake, for the Patriots front office, it’s “show-me” time. NOW.

Matt Burke is sports editor and a columnist at Metro Boston. Follow him on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…