Pats trade for Welker
New England gives up two draft choices for Miami WR
Posted: Monday March 5, 2007 4:47PM; Updated: Monday March 5, 2007 5:04PM
Spurning the risk that would have come with signing Miami receiver/returner Wes Welker to a restricted-free-agent offer sheet, the New England Patriots instead acquired Welker on Monday afternoon for two picks in the 2007 draft.
Signing Welker to the offer sheet would have meant Miami could have matched the offer and kept him or that it could have let New England acquire Welker in exchange for a second-round pick only. Instead, the Patriots will surrender their second- and seventh-round choices. It's also likely under this scenario that New England will have to lay out less cash to sign Welker long term.
Because Welker, 25, was a restricted free agent, Miami first had to sign him to a one-year contract, which it did on Monday. Later in the day, the trade to New England was consummated. It's thought the Patriots have a long-term contract worked out already with Welker, but it has not yet been announced. There were reports over the weekend that Welker would sign an offer sheet with New England averaging in the neighborhood of $6 million a year. With the deal being done this way, it's highly unlikely the Patriots will be making the 5-foot-9 Welker that rich.
Welker is only the second player in the last 15 NFL seasons to lead his team in receptions, punt returns and kickoff returns in the same season, which he did in 2006. (Former Titan Derrick Mason last accomplished that in 2001.) In New England it's likely he'll be given a good shot to start at receiver, and he'll probably return punts and get some other special teams opportunities as well.
The Patriots, unusually active in the first four days of free agency, now have traded for Welker and signed three free agents: linebacker Adalius Thomas, tight end Kyle Brady and running back Sammy Morris.