While Tom Brady is all but assured that he won’t be run out of Foxboro before he wants to go, few other Patriots can count on being around a second longer than the team considers them useful.
Wes Welker found that out the hard way this week. While Patriots owner Robert Kraft had long said he wanted to make Welker a “Patriot for life,” New England gave Welker just a few hours on the free-agent market before dealing to get his younger doppelganger, Danny Amendola. Welker could have remained with the Patriots, but it would have been on the team’s — and Bill Belichick‘s — terms. That usually means less money and no guarantees.
While Patriots fans are understandably upset that Welker joined rival Peyton Manning and his new team, they really shouldn’t be surprised. Belichick has never given money to veteran players who aren’t likely to produce in the future as they have in the past, no matter how great their pasts. Patriots history in the Belichick era is littered with the names of players who were a huge part of the team, only to be let go quietly when a younger, healthier or cheaper version could be found.
James Sanders, Damien Woody, Ty Warren and Ted Washington were all stalwarts whose time was clipped short, while Randy Moss proved Belichick right when he talked his way out of town.
But those aren’t the big ones. The big ones are those, like Welker, who learned that at some point, the pennies will be pinched, and the players looking for more money will be let go, no matter how mean the Patriots look when they do it.
For that, check out our Top 10 casualties from the Belichick era.