Patriots Vs. Titans: Is New England Trying To Phase Out Wes Welker?

Put on your conspiracy theory hats for a minute, would you? Wes Welker, the man who has been without a doubt the most consistent wide receiver in recent years for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, was targeted five times during Sunday's season opening 34-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. He had three catches for 14 yards. Fourteen yards.

We are talking about Mr. 100, remember? Tom Brady's favorite target that many expect to grab 100 footballs over the course of a season and the guy who has recorded 1,000 or more receiving yards in three of the four seasons he's been in New England. Yeah, that guy.

Yet, here he is having little impact on the game. And do you know what? The Pats didn't even need him (to be fair, Welker's presence alone demands attention, opening up opportunities for others -- Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Chad Ocho... er, nevermind). Still the Patriots won -- big -- without Welker.

Maybe he just wasn't part of the game plan this week? Sure, that's possible. Or maybe, just maybe, this was designed by Bill Belichick and the Patriots' brass to phase out Welker.

We all know that Welker is looking for big money, and that's part of the reason why the Pats slapped the franchise tag on him this season. In case you didn't know, the Patriots aren't particularly fond of paying their stars big money. If the passing game worked out like it did on Sunday every game, then let's face it: there's no need for Welker. It is what it is, right Bill?

Maybe Belichick wanted to see if the offense could survive without Welker, and with Gronk, Hernandez and Lloyd all in the fold, it appears that it can. Of course, the only way to really know if the offense can survive without Welker is to actually be without Welker. Perhaps Bill wanted to test out that idea. If he did, well, it worked.

If this is truly the case, then it would mean one of two things. Number one, there wouldn't be a need for Welker anymore, so why spend the money? Number two, it might drive Welker's price tag down if he did want to remain with the Patriots (if it happens, why would he?).

Do I actually believe this? I'm not sure, probably not. It isn't very likely that this is happening, but if you think about it, it makes a little bit of sense. What do you think?



For more New England Patriots coverage, visit our team page and blog, Pats Pulpit.

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