New England has done well to secure long-term deals with its two young studs at tight end, Rob Gronkowski in June and Aaron Hernandez Monday. However, with lots of money headed towards the young, talented pass-catchers, there might not be room in the Patriots' checkbook for a deal with Wes Welker, who is also looking for a long-term extension.
Welker's output certainly isn't declining: Even after a few great years in New England, the 2011 season was his best statistically, recording career highs in touchdowns and yards while averaging 98.1 yards per game. But Tom Brady has proven he can throw to just about anybody, and his rapport with Gronkowski and Hernandez is strong, with both players earning Pro Bowl nods. That means that the Patriots might look to replace Welker's production rather than reward him with a big contract, especially with the amount of money they just gave to a pair of guys who will be catching passes for Brady.
Welker will make $9.15 million this season after the Patriots gave him a one-year franchise tag, so he'll be free to leave after this season. If he wants the type of money his play merits, it might not be available in Foxboro.