What Welker had going for him was his incredibly consistent production on the field. He has led league in receptions in 2007, 2009, and 2011, and became the first receiver in NFL history to have three consecutive 110-reception seasons. He had been selected to the Pro Bowl five times (2007-through-2011) and the All-Pro Team four times (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011).
An impressive resume, yes. But his position, as “slot receiver,” apparently doesn’t receive the respect the speed-burners on the outside do.
While Dunn and Murphy were trying for $20 million-plus in guarantees, the Patriots, the Eagle-Tribune has learned, tried for three-year contracts with guarantees in the $18 million to $19 million range.
In fact, Welker’s representatives let it be known that the Patriots offered their client two years for $16 million, all of it guaranteed. The Patriots told Dunn and Murphy that offer might not be there next year (this off-season) because he would be a year older, the market might change and the salary cap could change.
When a deal couldn’t be hammered out, the Patriots franchised Welker in order to keep a key part of the offense on a Super Bowl-contending team. Even if it was a few million more than they wanted to spend, it was smart business.
The problem, according to an NFL source, was that $9.5 million franchise tag left Welker’s representative with higher expectations going forward.
The Patriots, it is believed, tried to find some common ground with on Welker remaining with the team at the NFL Combine in the third week of February. Dunn and Murphy thought they were still being low-balled.
What Dunn and Murphy were doing is anyone’s guess. They had a year to figure out the market for their client. They had the combine to figure out the market. They had a three-day legal tampering window to figure out the market.