The Patriots wanted to keep the slot ace, but given his age, wouldn't break the bank to do so, especially with Danny Amendola an option in free agency and with their own receiver, Julian Edelman, himself a free agent, on the back burner.
Some teams were not sure Welker would be as productive for them as he was in the Pats' system with Tom Brady, and there was tredipidation to put forth big money for him. Outside of Wallace and Percy Harvin getting $12 million per year (actually pushing $13 in Harvin's case), things are stagnant in this market according to multiple general managers, several of whom said they weren't sure Welker could get in the $8 million-$10 million range. He clearly didn't.
Furthermore, with Greg Jennings having age and injury concerns as well, some GMs believe he ends up around $8 million-$9 million a year, with a strong chance he remains in Green Bay as well.
Amendola, himself an injury concern, albeit a young one, has two visits set up, with New England, Minnesota and Philadelphia among the teams looking at him leading up to the start of the league year. And the market grew with the addition of Laurent Robinson cut by the Jags on Wednesday.
Amendola has received interest from the Patriots, Eagles and Vikings, according to a league source. The Pats are expected to make a big push, and the lure of playing with Brady could be too great to ignore.
But the Rams could get back in it as well, with them valuing him in contract negotiations more in this $6-million-a-year range, and, though he is younger, Amendola's extensive injury history works against him.
Greg Jennings is limited as well, given his age and recent injuries, and few strong suitors emerged out of the gate. Minnesota may explore it, given that it's difficult to see Jennings getting more than $9 million a year, and, even in the Wallace deal several GMs believe the Dolphins overpaid, because there were no other teams that seemed poised to give him much more than $10 million a season; Miami gave him $12 million.
There is not much left in unrestricted free agency, making it all the more possible a team targets Giants restricted free agent Victor Cruz, who is on a first-round tender. Minnesota, for one, is loaded with picks and has a need.
And, with Welker getting $6 million a year, it makes it even more clear why the Ravens were not inclined to pay aging Anquan Boldin the $6 million he was set to earn this season before being traded to the 49ers.