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What Does WR Spending Binge Mean For Wes Welker, Patriots?

By Matt Geagan, CBSBoston
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Wes Welker (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Wes Welker (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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New England Patriots

BOSTON (CBS) –  While the New England Patriots stayed quiet on Tuesday, letting the dust settle a bit on the first day of NFL free agency, other teams around the league threw plenty of money around.

A lot of that cash went to wide receivers, which does not help New England’s cause when it comes to locking up Wes Welker.

Vincent Jackson got a shiny five-year $55.5 million deal ($26 million guaranteed) from the Tampa Bay Bucs. The 29-year-old has 242 receptions over the last five years, and only 74 in the last two (his 2010 season was shortened by a holdout and injury).

To replace Jackson, the Chargers signed Robert Meachem to a four-year, $25.9 million contract, who has 141 receptions the last four seasons, and 88 the last two while with the Saints.

Check It Out: NFL Free Agency Tracker

Marques Colston got five-years and $40 million ($20.5 million guaranteed) to remain with the New Orleans after hauling in 379 passes from Drew Brees the last five seasons, and 137 over the last two.

Perhaps the worst deal handed out on Tuesday (from a New England standpoint at least) was the one given to Pierre Garcon, who inked a five-year, $42.5 million deal from the Washington Redskins. Garcon had 188 receptions his first four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. Washington also signed receiver Josh Morgan to a five-year deal (which could turn in to a two-year deal for $12 million) who has just 132 receptions over his four-year career.

All those numbers considered, here is what Welker did in that span: 554 receptions the last five years, 208 the last two.

Imagine the dollar signs in Welker’s eyes when he saw the Garcon deal scroll across his TV.

The Patriots have until July 15 to work out an extension for Welker, and given the bags of loot handed out on Tuesday, the four-time Pro Bowler should at least command a deal in the mid-$40 million range with $20 million guaranteed. Yes, Welker is older than those mentioned above, but his track record has earned at least the same ballpark as what Garcon and Colston received.

Toucher & Rich: Jeff Howe On NFL Free Agency

That is, of course, if the Patriots even intend to sign Welker to a long-term deal. When they hit him with the franchise tag, it gave them the chance to negotiate a long-term deal without other teams getting involved, or retain his services for one more year (barring a holdout) and then decide if he’s worth locking up long-term.

Welker is an interesting specimen when it comes to a long-term deal. He has certainly earned it by leaving his heart and soul on the field, giving it his all on every single play. But is it worth it to lock him up, given all the hits, miles and the knee injury from two seasons ago, for what will end up being a rather large cap hit?

The Patriots will have to figure that out. Until then, they can hope Wes and his agent a looking more at the three-year, $17.5 million deal Reggie Wayne took to stay in Indianapolis rather than the ones Garcon and Colston received.

But in this case, a hometown discount may not apply.

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