Is Julian Edelman the next Wes Welker? And by that, I mean will he be playing for another team next season?
Jason: Edelman isn't going to command a huge contract since this is far and away his best year. Most teams are hesitant to throw big bucks at a guy coming off of a career year, and that issue is more serious when you consider the system he's in now is very different from any other team he'd sign with in the offseason. And don't lose sight of the fact that he hasn't exactly been a picture of health. I have a feeling he'll get a handsome raise to stay with the Pats (in the $3-4 million range), but still be a bargain considering his level of production.
Raj: When I first read this question, I was fooled. After reading that next part, I have to say no. He's loving it in New England. Unless he doesn't get a decent contract (which would be a big mistake), I'm 100% certain he returns back to the Patriots and won't pull a Wes Welker.
Derek: I would say "no" to this question, but then again, I never seriously thought that the Patriots would lose Welker or Danny Woodhead, for that matter. The Patriots have a track record of setting a firm value on a player and not deviating from it. Neither Welker, nor Woodhead signed a ridiculous contract with their new teams, but the Patriots still refused to match. All it's going to take is one team with some cash to spend to pry him away from the Patriots, and Edelman is making a mighty strong case for a pay raise this season.
If there is one thing going for Edelman that Welker and Woodhead didn't have, it's a lack of depth behind him. If the Patriots lost Edelman, there is no clear replacement to fill the void he'd be leaving. Welker's value to the Patriots was diminshed by the presence of Edelman and then Amendola. Woodhead was less valuable to them because Vereen was on the roster. Despite the strides that Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have made this season, I can't say the Patriots are in a place where Edelman's potential replacement for next season is clearly on the current roster.