Is Wes Welker making a mistake by testing free agency?
Welker was hit with the franchise tag last year, and this year he's hoping for a 3-year deal.
The Patriots, despite the fact that they just cleared out some serious cap room by restructuring Tom Brady's contract, are convinced that they can live without their all-world slot receiver.
The Patriots are notoriously cheap with players they deem expendable, and it's possible that Welker has reached that point, as far as they're concerned. They tried (unsuccessfully) to replace him with Julian Edelman early in the season to demonstrate his expendability.
It became immediately clear that the Patriots needed Welker, but the other important factor is that Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were never really 100% healthy at the same time. Perhaps with both of them on the field, the Patriots could more easily deal with losing Welker.
The real question isn't whether or not the Patriots need Welker... it's whether or not Welker needs the Patriots.
He can probably get more money elsewhere. The Patriots aren't going to pay him top dollar, and he knows it. Everyone else in the league knows it, as well.
But is he worth as much anywhere else?
If he goes somewhere else, he won't have Tom Brady throwing him passes. He might be a damn good receiver, but he probably won't be the guy who finishes near the top of the league in receptions if he goes into another offense.
If Welker wants the money, he'll leave New England. If he wants to further his legacy, put up numbers that might put him into the Hall of Fame conversation (and even that would be a stretch), and possibly win a Super Bowl, then the Patriots have everything he needs.
As is often the case... it's all going to come down to money.