Most fans up in Foxborough have the sinking feeling that 2012 is the last year for All-Pro receiver Wes Welker in a New England Patriots uniform. If they choose to trade him before free agency, could the Cleveland Browns become a top contender?
Some think Patriots will sacrifice Welker to keep Aaron Hernandez
Spectacular is really only one of the word that can describe what Patriot fans saw from Welker in his time with New England. Since joining the team in 2007 he has reached four Pro Bowls and gone All-Pro four times. He also led the league in receptions three of those years as the favorite target of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Though he is 31 and no longer in his prime no one thinks he's lost a step or is in danger of slowing down. His problem stands with the Patriots roster. Everywhere one looks there is talent on the offense from Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Lloyd, Pro Bowl tight ends and Pro Bowl offensive linemen. New England can't spend money on everyone. Given their history older players don't last long if the team can afford to lose them. The talent security on offense could explain why the Patriots haven't worked harder to lock up Welker. Some think the team will cut bait and release him after the 2012 season, saving their money to keep younger Pro Bowl tight end Aaron Hernandez. Another idea is trying to trade him for a draft pick. Though his age could become a reason there are some teams who could become interested.
Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson could use veteran help
The Cleveland Browns haven't had a good offense since former Patriot coach Romeo Crennel got run out-of-town. Not only has the team struggled to find a quarterback but their wide receivers are widely considered the worst group in the NFL. There is so little faith in the offense in fact that four rookies could start in week one of the regular season. Leading the way are quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson, the two key players Cleveland hopes will bring the team back to the playoffs. Together with rookie receiver Josh Gordon the Browns believe they can mold themselves into winners. Yet in a division like the AFC North with playoff powerhouses like Pittsburgh, Baltimore and now Cincinnati, the Browns can't expect rookies to do it alone without some veteran help. A veteran with lots of playoff experience like Wes Welker is exactly what the offense needs. His skills would give Weeden a reliable target to get first downs and force defenses to take their focus off Richardson who figures to become the Browns main offensive threat. While the price for Welker is uncertain, a rebuilding team like Cleveland can afford to pay it.
Aaron Hernandez likely has a future with the New England Patriots over Welker but that doesn't mean the star receiver isn't in high demand. A team like the Cleveland Browns with rookie hopefuls like Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson would welcome him on their roster. Time will tell if things swing that way.