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|Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker will face his former team Sunday night.|
Welker came back to the Patriots after receiving the offer from the Broncos and gave them the chance to match it. Had the Patriots not already committed significant extensions to Danny Amendola and Aaron Hernandez, they probably would have. But I think the feeling was that it was too much money tied up on the interior part of the field, and it would restrict them in terms of investing on defense (e.g. possibly no Aqib Talib). If they knew then what they know now in regards to Hernandez, it seems fair to say Welker probably still is a Patriot.
The role of the first-ever legal tampering period was a significant factor contributing to the way things ended. The Patriots assumed Welker had a better offer elsewhere after the three-day period and made the decision at that point to move on. If they didn't, they feared losing the only player they viewed as a capable replacement, Amendola.
Welker's camp, although skeptical that the Patriots had locked in on Amendola from the outset, felt like there would still be time to dance after the three-day legal tampering period. When they realized there wasn't, it required an aggressive sales pitch to Denver to generate interest that wasn't previously there. Denver and Welker had little to no contact during the three-day legal tampering period.
The closest the Patriots and Welker ever came to an extension was in the summer of 2012. They were about $1 million apart but couldn't close the gap.
I truly don't think Welker ever thought it would come to this, although there was a part of him that had grown tired of Bill Belichick's hard-driving approach. Likewise, I think Belichick had great respect for Welker, but at the same time had grown tired with how things that dragged out contractually over two years.
|Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet again Sunday night.|