- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Patriots are emotionless and truly believe no one player is above the team. Many NFL clubs say it but later cave into star players' wishes. The Patriots do not.
Wes Welker is the latest poster child of "The Patriot Way." The deadline for players under the franchise tag passed at 4 p.m. ET Monday without a new extension for Welker. He will receive no long-term security and this could turn out to be his final season in New England.
So how did Welker and New England get to this point?
A case can be made that Welker has done everything right in his five years with the Patriots. He is an undersized receiver who worked very hard to overachieve and outperform a modest contract with New England.
Welker never complained about his previous contract. He signed it and played it out in full. But this offseason was supposed to be a reward for years of staying quiet and playing great football. Welker caught 100 or more passes in four of his five seasons in New England.
Instead, the Patriots are sticking to what they are comfortable with and didn't budge. They want to keep the 31-year-old Welker for at least one more season. New England is willing to risk of losing Welker when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2013. Another, more expensive franchise tag is possible next year. But the Patriots will not give Welker a long-term contract at 32, when they wouldn't do it at 31.
McGinest, who won three Super Bowls with New England, warned Welker this offseason during a highly-publicized Twitter spat. McGinest pointed out to Welker that every player is replaceable at One Patriot Drive, and Welker should be happy he’s getting the one-year, $9.5 million offer. Welker scoffed at McGinest but on Monday learned the hard way that McGinest is correct.
The Patriots' harsh approach to doing business under Bill Belichick has worked well the past dozen years. It's hard to argue with three Super Bowl championships and 10 AFC East titles since 2000.
But there are some Patriots casualties who feel cheated along the way. You now can add Welker to that list.