The Patriots and Wes Welker did not consummate a deal. They remain in contract limbo. As it stands, the two sides talked yesterday. But the bottom line is this: They’re not in a happy place. That means the much-anticipated long-term contract between the team and its heart-and-soul receiver isn’t anywhere near close to happening. By the open of NFL free agency, the sides were miles apart. So they have moved on. That doesn’t mean they still can’t come together and eventually work out a deal. But the fact the discussions had broken off less than an hour after free agency opened doesn’t leave the most optimistic picture — and casts a pall over the proceedings going forward. It’s not like the sides didn’t have time to get all the preliminary dancing out of the way that comes with many of these high-priced negotiations. They could have settled in on a workable compromise. But the way it stands right now, the Patriots haven’t provided what can be construed as a serious offer for Tom Brady’s main man. This can all be posturing, of course. It can be hardball negotiating, which they’re known for. Or, the Pats simply don’t want to re-sign Welker, which, of course, counters the apparent wishes of owner Robert Kraft, who Monday expressed the hope the receiver “remained a Patriot for life, just like Tom Brady.” Whatever the case, the Welker camp has moved on to free agency. Theoretically, that leaves the Patriots to come up with a Plan B, and Welker to sign on with another team in the coming days. What are the alternatives to Welker? If the Pats lose his usual 110 catches and 1,200 yards per year, they could turn in a few directions, but none that would ultimately compare to what Welker brings to the table. Out in the free agency pool, the closest thing to a Welker clone is Danny Amendola, a fellow Texas Tech alum. The former Rams receiver is essentially a younger version of Welker. He does a lot of the same things. He’s not quite as good as Welker, but he’s fairly close. He just has an issue staying healthy, and that’s a problem. Beyond Amendola, the Pats have reportedly shown interest in Joshua Cribbs, the Browns’ 29-year-old receiver/returner. Cribbs is known mostly for his return skills, which are off the charts. Some have theorized he could be part of the contingency plan to replace Welker.
Wes Welker is free to roam, talks break off
Boston Herald | Mar 13