Gronk down, Welker next?

Gronk down, Welker next?
June 8, 2012, 7:04 pm
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Pop quiz hotshot: Who's more essential to the Patriots offense Rob Gronkowski or Wes Welker?

Whose present and long-term standing with the team is most integral in a) keeping Tom Brady happy b) striking fear in the heart of opponents and c) maybe, just maybe, bringing that elusive fourth Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots Hall of Fame?

Who's more likely to get drunk at a high school house party and declare himself a Golden God before cannon-balling into a crowded swimming pool?

Actually, that last one's not so easy, but the answer is Gronk. The answer to every question is Gronk. As amazing as Welker's been over his five seasons with the Pats, there are few players in the entire league more dominant than Yo Soy Roberto Gronkowski, and before today, his future status as a Patriot was the biggest question looming over the New England cap. What's going to happen when his deal expires? Will they pony up all that cash? Is there anyway they'll let Gronk slip away?

The answer is no. We can say that for sure now, thanks to the news that Gronk and the Pats have agreed to a six-year extension that will keep the half-manhalf-fiesta in Foxboro through 2019. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see how many touchdowns he and 42-year-old Tom Brady combine for that season. I'm think at least 25. At least.

But scaling it back to the present for a second, it's important to note that with the Patriots No. 1 financial question mark now being replaced by an exclamation point, the team has been granted a decent dose of salary cap clarity.

And now that they can visualize their long term future with Gronk, they'll have an easier time finding solutions to some of their short term problems.

And there's no pressing short term issue than Wes Welker.

Will he be the next extension to fall out of Foxboro? I wouldn't be surprised.

Although, Mr. Kraft might also want to consider signing his new lady friend to whatever kind of deal she wants.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine