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In a move that shocked Patriot nation in the offseason, receiver Wes Welker signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Denver Broncos leaving New England in the dust. For months, many speculated the move by Welker was about more than just the money and in an recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Welker confirmed those theories.
As a Bronco, Welker now has reigns to speak openly to reporters without fear of repercussions. He is taking advantage of that these days as he opened up to SI about his deteriorating relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick towards the end of his six-year tenure with the Patriots.
Welker admits to the magazine he had to just “put up” with the coach towards the end of his time with the team. He also spoke on a personal note saying, “You always think you’re one of those players who will be in one place the whole time, one of those guys they’ll never let leave because you play hurt, do what it takes.”
It sounds like Welker feels hurt and betrayed by his old team and almost like he misses them but is the feeling mutual? Will the Patriots miss Wes Welker this season?
There has been plenty of chatter around the league about whether or not the Patriots will miss their former elite receiver in Welker and the answer is yes. The Patriots may not know this now but Welker is irreplaceable. That is not to say the Patriots will struggle to win without him because they still have Tom Brady as their quarterback. The team will once again be a Super Bowl contender but will miss certain elements that Welker brought to the team such as his physical toughness, football IQ and chemistry with Brady.
In his six seasons with the Patriots, Welker recorded 672 receptions, the most in the league over that span of time, leading the league in receptions for three of those years. He also caught for over 7,000 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Brady’s will miss his favorite and most reliable target for the past several seasons. As Brady’s security blanket, Welker caught over 110 passes and accumulated 1,100 yards in five of his last six seasons. During the 2012 season, Welker recorded 118 receptions and 1,354 yards.
The offense will also miss Welker’s intangibles. One of his best qualities was his durability. Welker managed to stay healthy for most of his time with the Patriots, minus the knee injury that forced him to miss the 2010 playoffs. Out of six full seasons with the Patriots, Welker only missed three starts and only had six fumbles in his Patriot career. The 5’9”, 185 pound receiver’s talents went beyond the statistics as he proved to be one of the mentally and physically toughest receivers in the league, taking tackle after tackle, and getting right back up every single time. In one word, Welker was just reliable.
The rapport he had established with Brady will be very tough for another receiver to replicate. Welker understood the system and executed his routes very efficiently. He was reliable in moving the chains. Brady will miss the ability to just dump the ball off to Welker and know they will get a first down. Welker was one of the best slot receivers in the league and could break man coverage in that position better than anyone else, proving his high football IQ. Although not the fastest receiver, Welker was known for his ability to create separation from defenders and his quickness.
In a next-man-up type of league where players are expendable, it seems the Patriots have already taken steps to replace Welker by signing Danny Amendola. Amendola resembles Welker in his route running and catching abilities and some even go as far to say Amendola is a younger, better version of Welker.
Critics also argue that Welker was a product of the Patriot offense and that Brady made Welker a success. Many are also quick to remind us of the costly dropped catches in the Super Bowl (which was overthrown) and playoff games. However, Welker had become one of the most durable and productive receivers in the league while with the Patriots.
The Patriots and Welker unfortunately had a very messy divorce. Welker is the bitter divorcee who has something to prove. The Patriots are the divorcees who have to prove they made the right choice in letting Welker walk away and are able to move on without him. This drama will all make for one epic match-up when Welker returns with his new team to play his former team that no longer wanted his services.