Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports NFL analyst Peter King checked in with Mut & Merloni for his weekly Patriots Friday appearance and weighed in on some key issues involving the Patriots.
Wes Welker's cut in playing time has been a huge issue in New England this week. King speculated that Welker is indeed being phased out.
"I think they're preparing for life without Wes Welker," King said. "I think if you look at the reality of this situation, Bill Belichick has always -- I mean always -- had the future in mind when he is trying to figure out how he is going to put his team into play for both the present and the future. All you have to do is look back at Richard Seymour. When you look back at Richard Seymour you realize in essence good players can be traded and can be gotten rid of.
"Now, I'll just make this point: Even though Wes Welker is not playing as many snaps as he did let's say a year ago, I did look [it] up this week -- he played 63 of 82 offensive snaps in that game against Arizona. It's not like he's being benched. And I understand that [Julian] Edelman has obviously taken some of his work away. And you look at it and you say, 'Jeez, well, why are the Patriots doing that?' And I think it has to do with basically survival of the fittest. If Bill Belichick knows he's going to lose Wes Welker at the end of this year -- which he figures he probably is. They made their best shot, he decided not to sign. And if they're either going to lose him at the trading deadline or at the end of the year, he says, 'I've got to find out if Julian Edelman is the guy.' And so, that's what he's in the process of finding out right now."
Asked if he thinks Welker will be traded, King said: "I think it's doubtful that they'll trade him, unless they got a really good offer. But I think that nothing is impossible. What if some team comes to them and says, 'We'll give you a [second-round draft pick]?' … What if you're Belichick? You know you've only got him for, let's say at that time, 12 more games. Is it worth it? If I were BIll, I'd strongly consider that. Because if you're not going to have the guy around and you believe that Edelman is an adequate replacement, I would do that if I were them."
Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton raised some eyebrows earlier this week when he claimed that his defense picked up on some Patriots tendencies that made it easy for Arizona to figure out what was coming during the Cardinals' 20-18 victory Sunday.
"I find him an honorable guy, and I find him an honest guy," King said of Horton. "So, I have to think that what he has done here, maybe, is overstated what he knew. Because I can't believe -- and I've known Ray -- I can't believe he'd lie about something like that. Perhaps it was overstated, and clearly the numbers don't bear it out -- something doesn't match there.
"I also think this: A lot of times, when you're a young, rising team like the Cardinals hope that they are, and you get excited after going to New England and the defense you call works against one of the best offenses ever to take the field, you get excited. So, I've got to think he overstated what happened a little bit and what they knew, because just knowing the guy the way I know him, I just can't believe that he would have made it up."
Looking at the situation with the game officials, King said the league still is "probably two disastrous weeks away from giving in" on at least one of the issues preventing the sides from settling.
"The NFL understands that people are still going to watch the games, people are still going to go to the games, and people are still going to talk about the games," King said. "Now, I believe if there are many more weeks like Week 2, where there were two games that I thought were borderline abominations: the Monday night game, where the officials just lost control of the game, and then the game Philadelphia and Baltimore in Philly, where for the life of me I cannot figure out why they were afraid to throw somebody out of the game after all the fights in the game.
"At some point you have to look at this and say this isn't working. In my opinion, it's not working. Now, there are some games where they do fine. Last night they missed two obvious false starts, they still are not capable of calling pass interference correctly and illegal contact. But in essence, they did a fine job last night. There was nothing glaring about that game. Half the games, there's nothing glaring about them, really. So, I think the NFL, unless they feel pressure, is not really going to in a revolutionary way change its offer."
Regarding the specific issues that are preventing the regular officials' return, King said: "The biggest problem right now has to do with two things that are not really money related, because they're not really fighting over the money that they're paid per game. They're fighting over the fact that the NFL wants to hire 21 additional officials to basically give them a farm system. So if some guy is rated poorly two or three weeks in a row, he goes to the bench and the next bet-rated head linesman gets called up. So, that's one thing.
"And I think the other thing is the pension. Last year, all NFL officials got $38,000 contributed to their pension for the post-career plans. The NFL is trying to lower that to about $16,000 a year. … Those are the two biggest issues right now. You're right, they met this week, Jay Glazer [of Fox Sports] reported it, it was a top-secret negotiation, and they got nowhere."
Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.
Gabe calls the boys to handicap one of the biggest gambling days of the year - Super Bowl 51! Gabe has all the point spread info down and gets to all of the major prop bets that interest him.
Fauria is still down in Houston and calls live from NRG Stadium to give his take on what will go down later on in Super Bowl 51. He likes the Pats and gives his reasons why, but also gets into the scene in Houston all week, famous people he met and why he is tired out from a wild week.
The NBA trade rumor mill is beginning to swirl as the deadline approaches and Picard is ready to go! He talks about the possibility of Jimmy Butler coming to Boston, why Isaiah Thomas is not getting enough respect and the future of the Celtics.
Adrian Wojnarowski has been talking about the possibility of the Celtics making a trade with the Bulls to bring Jimmy Butler to Boston. He actually thinks it may be the the marquee deal to keep an eye on this week heading into the trade deadline. Pete and Jerry discuss and give their thoughts on if they would want Butler. Pete thinks it will happen, Jerry thinks Ainge will stay put. The guys get into more Celtics, present and future and if they can battle with the best of the NBA.
Anna Horford, sister of Boston Celtics Al Horford, makes her Boston radio debut. She talks about Twitter and reacting to mean tweets about her brother. She also gives us her thoughts on the city of Boston and racism.
Bradford checks in from spring training to give us all the media dirt he can dig up...oh, and talk some baseball too.
Guys talk the Bruins season so far and the All-Star Break
Guys discuss if or when the Bruins will fire Coach Julian
Ken, Rear and Ty get into a very solid week for the B's beating St Louis and the Flyers and losing a hard-fought game against the Predators. Is this team turning things around? Krug and Marchand are kicking things up a notch. The guys also talk about Claude and Sweeney's job security before getting into some big hits around the league this week.
Hour 4. Red Sox broadcaster Dave O'Brien joins the show.
Hour 3. The guys take more calls on transgender bathrooms. Evan Drellich joins the show...again.
Dino reunites with the guys at spring training.
Max Kellerman rips Pats fans. Skip Bayless says Bill Belichick is "good, not great." And Dan Le Batard feels the heat from Keyshawn Johnson regarding his criticisms of Magic Johnson.
It took a few hours, but Glenn finally starts to agree with Lou and Mut about Danny Ainge.
Obviously the Celtics aren't expected to overtake the Cavs in the East, but the guys wonder if the team is trying to get a little bit better each year, or hold onto their assets until LeBron is over the hill.
We close out Freestyle Friday with more Pats, Sox and Celtics talk.
We continue freestyle Friday with Brady and Jimmy G trade talk, plus more on the Celtics and the Vancouver Canucks have the mumps!
Kirk sits down with the legend Glenn Ordway to talk about when Glenn got fired here at WEEI, his start with the station, the controversial decisions he made when he was the Program Director, and he relationship with Eddie Andelman.
Kirk chats with David Duchovny about his current music tour, which takes him to the Wilbur on February 22nd, how David got his start in television, from his first stint on Red Shoe Diaries, becoming a superstar on the X-Files, and his hilarious appearances on the Larry Sanders Show. This is a fascinating discussion about show business and controlling your own career.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap Wednesday and Thursday's K&C shows on location in Ft. Myers
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Hour 4. Evan Drellich joins the show. A fight for the ages ensues.More from this show