Patriots owner Robert Kraft on free agent-to-be Wes Welker: ‘We want him for life’

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) runs past Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Graham (24) during the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) runs past Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Graham (24) during the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL offseason is about to get a lot more crazy with the opening of free agency on Tuesday, March 12. Speculation has run rampant since the Super Bowl ended in January regarding the futures of a number of big-time players.

While some guys, like Joe Flacco, will be staying put, and others, like Percy Harvin, will be on the move, the future of studly slot receiver Wes Welker is still very much up in the air.

[Related: Rashard Mendenhall’s future is most likely very far from Pittsburgh]

While Welker only stands in at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, there is no doubting his massive importance to quarterback Tom Brady out on the football field. The only year Welker has not surpassed 100 receptions and 1,000 yards since joining New England back in 2007 was in 2010, when he went down with a torn ACL.

Replacing a guy that is as close to a lock for those types of numbers as anyone in the league, no matter how tall or fast, will be nearly impossible.

From the sounds of it, Patriots owner Robert Kraft understands that.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not he backs up his words with a financially viable contract once the frenzy of free agency kicks into high gear.

MORE NFL: Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco wants his favorite receiver to get paid, too