You have to wonder how all of this sits with Brady, who despite his enormous clout with the Patriots does not get involved in personnel decisions. Brady and Welker were close friends and vacationed together, but Brady has had this happen before with Lawyer Milloy and Deion Branch. There’s no doubt, however, that Brady will miss Welker.
“I played with a lot of great players, whether that was Kevin Faulk or Randy Moss or Rodney Harrison, but Wes has been truly the greatest teammate you could possibly have,” Brady told the Globe in January. “His commitment to the team, his selflessness . . .
“When Wes clears out on a route, he clears out the route better than anybody I’ve ever seen. He knows he’s not getting the ball, but he almost takes as much pride in that as he does on the 6-yard option route to get open. That’s everything you need to know about Wes.
“That’s the best part about him. Whatever you need me to do, that’s what he’s going to do. He does it every day in practice, and I feel that’s what has always set him apart.”
With Welker gone, Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels can move forward with an offense that we saw glimpses of early last season — one they feel will make them tougher to defend, especially in the playoffs.
With Welker, Gronkowski, and Hernandez, the Patriots had too many weapons that worked best in the middle of the field.
Removing Welker should leave the middle to the tight ends, with Hernandez taking most of Welker’s snaps inside the numbers. They could also use the other tight ends, Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui, more with Gronkowski to free up Hernandez as a receiver.
Amendola, who played for McDaniels in St. Louis, and a re-signed Edelman would be outside the numbers, running a variety of short passes, bubble screens, and crossing routes.
The real key to taking the offense to the next level is finding a dynamic boundary receiver with similar traits to Randy Moss. Barring a trade for a Larry Fitzgerald type, the Patriots will have to find that player in the draft.
They have a terrible track record, but it’s time for them to deliver their first consistent receiver in the draft since 2002 (Branch, David Givens). DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson), Justin Hunter (Tennessee), Keenan Allen (Cal), Terrance Williams (Baylor), and Markus Wheaton (Oregon State) are among those who have that type of potential.
The Patriots, through an unnecessarily messy endgame, have made their decision to move on from Welker, and they have a plan that makes the team better. Now it’s up to them to execute it.