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Wondering if Wes Welker is headed for a “contractual mud wrestle”

Wes Welker, Akin Ayodele

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) is tackled by Buffalo Bills defender Akin Ayodele (50) during the first half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)


Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker said earlier this offseason he didn’t deserve a new contract.

His agent would probably disagree, considering that Welker has led the NFL in catches since signing a five-year, $18.1 million contract with the Patriots four years ago. Beloved in New England by fans and Tom Brady alike, Welker is now 30 and could be headed for a tricky negotiation after the 2011 season.

Our buddy Tom Curran of chimes in:

“I have the feeling he’s in for a contractual mud-wrestle with the Patriots. His productivity is going to decline, he is not the most surehanded receiver (he led the league with 13 dropped passes in 2010), his skill set is - while wondrous - not entirely unique (in three games replacing Welker, Julian Edelman has 24 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns).”

We agree with most of the points above. Slot receivers don’t make huge money on the open market, but there will be some team out there wanting to get sprinkled with magic Patriots dust. (Think of the contracts for David Givens, Deion Branch, and David Patten.)

In the end, however, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Wes Welker take the Tedy Bruschi route and accept a below-market deal in New England. (Don’t expect Welker to be his own agent like Bruschi.) Welker is the same guy that didn’t hold the Patriots over a barrel when they traded for him. He’s the same guy who said he didn’t deserve a contract in January. Who says that?

Welker deserves a raise, and everyone knows it. But Welker also knows he has a good thing with Brady and probably isn’t eager to leave.