On today’s First Take (video above), analysts Christian Fauria, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless pondered the question: Who needs the other more, the Patriots or soon-to-be-free-agent Wes Welker?
Here are their takes. Share your perspective in the accompanying poll and in the comments section:
* Fauria: Patriots need Welker more than he needs them
“Him and Tom Brady, they share the same brain. These two guys work in conjunction with each other all the time,” said Fauria, who played with Brady in New England from 2002-2005. “He’s not a guy that’s going to get you a lot of touchdowns, not going to get you big yardage, but he’s going to bail you out when you need it. He’s going to make a big play for you.
“(The Patriots are) playing with fire, letting him go into the free agent market. Nobody really knows what he’s really worth because he’s never been a free agent before. The Patriots I think are curious to know what his value really is. They’ve been kind of dictating it, throwing a franchise tag on him, lock him up, give him a year. The way they’ve been treating him over the past couple of years, I think there’s a little bit of disdain that he feels toward them and he’s a little irritated. He wants to find out what his value really is.
“There is a team out there that will really value what he can bring. I think the Patriots need him. I think Tom Brady wants him on that team. There was a lot of speculation as to why Tom Brady took a ‘hometown discount’, and one of the reasons was to free up room for Wes Welker.”
* Smith: Patriots need Welker more than he needs them
“The fact is you need Welker, not just because of his level of production but because of his reliability,” which is something they haven’t been able to rely on with the oft-injured Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Smith said. “Welker is the guy they can rely upon most.”
* Bayless: Welker needs Patriots more than they need him
“Wes Welker needs Brady, he needs the system, he needs Josh McDaniels, he needs (Bill) Belichick, needs the tradition, needs the momentum of the franchise, needs all of that,” Bayless said. “He needs Gronkwoski, even though we don’t know whether he’ll always be healthy or not, he needs Aaron Hernandez. That all made Wes Welker what he is.
"No disrespect, but was Wes in Miami anywhere near what he was (in New England)? No, he was not. And if he goes back to Miami or wherever he goes on the free agent market, he will slowly but surely disappear at age 32. ...
“It could be Julian Edelman next year. If (the Patriots) re-sign him I think he would slowly become the Wes Welker. They could go sign Danny Amendola and I say he would be pretty close to Wes Welker if not equal with Wes Welker. They could go get Greg Jennings on the free agent market, whoever it is, and they will be just fine next year without Wes Welker. Will they be a little better with him? Yes, but don’t tell me they need him more than he needs them.”