NE Patriots: Is Wes Welker Safe from 2012 NFL Trade Deadline Activity?

Marc FreshmanContributor IOctober 18, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30: Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots celebrates after making a catch for a first down during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 30, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Patriots are struggling at 3-3, but Wes Welker is flourishing.

He ranks second in the league with 622 receiving yards, and when he takes the field on Sunday, he'll be looking for his fifth straight game with over 100 yards.

This sort of elite production is routine for Welker. He's had over 100 catches and over 1,000 yards in four of the last five seasons.

He outperformed his prior contract to a psychotic extent, delivering big-time numbers for relatively modest pay. It was a financial discrepancy which seemed destined to be rectified down the road.

But it was never rectified.

The Patriots tagged him over the offseason, which means he's playing right now under a single-season contract. He's outperforming the best football players in the world and he's doing it without any security, without any place to call home for the long haul, without any knowledge of where he'll be next season, or where he'll be in the next few weeks as the trade deadline approaches.

A trade is possible.

Bill Belichick does not get starstruck. He puts the collective before the individual, always.

He nips, he tucks, he cuts, he trades, he puts into effect whatever calculations he's quietly reached, just so long as he gets something that he feels might yield a greater return for the team. 

Randy Moss wasn't safe from those calculations. That trade came down like a bolt of lightning on a nice spring day. If Moss could be swapped, then Welker can be swapped.

However, timing could play an issue here.  

Belichick factors the future into the decisions he makes. He's unafraid to wait for investments to pay off, just so long as he believes they'll pay off in the end.

The thing is, Belichick is 60 years old now. He may not want to wait much longer for the pieces to fall into place. At 35, Tom Brady might not want to play much longer, or at least, his body might not want to play much longer. The Patriots need to win before this duo takes their final bow.

It's hard to believe that Welker doesn't fit into this plan. His production is so extreme and so consistent, it seems outlandish to think Belichick would exchange that for a few draft picks or any other vague investment with abstract potential down the road.

Welker is the ideal player. You don't swap an ideal for an idea.

The Patriots aren't losing right now because of Welker, they're losing because nobody else looks ready to play football. This isn't about No. 83, this is about the team's identity.

The Patriots need to stop being so afraid of putting a slight crack in the perfection of the Patriot Way. This team needs to get their uniforms dirty. They need to stop responding to insults with politeness. They need to stop playing chess and start boxing.

They also need to make Welker feel wanted. Otherwise, they run the risk of alienating him. 

Celtics fans learned that the hard way. They endured some brutal trade deadlines, each deadline clogged with rumors that Ray Allen was on the verge of being shipped off.

Allen kept surviving the deadlines.

When fans finally began to believe that Allen would actually retire in Boston, he left on his own accord.

Was it an issue of his playing time? Did he feel disrespected because he was coming off the bench? Did he have problems with Rajon Rondo? Was he irritated by the endless trade rumors?

Perhaps these issues played a factor in his decision to leave.

Or, perhaps Allen simply went with the team that wanted him more. There is such a thing as "the need to be wooed." Sounds corny, but it's true.

It's sad to say, but Allen probably didn't feel too wanted by the Celtics. When the Heat wooed him, he said "yes." It's nice to be wooed.

How wooed do you think Welker feels right now?

He's producing at a mind-blowing rate, while Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are easing into the season like it's a hot tub.

Some of that "easing" has to do with injuries, but it also has to do with the fact that the Patriots are totally out of sync right now.

The only guy who's "football ready" is the guy who's playing on a one-year franchise tag.

Welker isn't going anywhere.


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