Last year the Patriots allowed Tom Brady's security blanket to walk out the door and sign with the Broncos.
This season, Brady developed tremendous chemistry with Julian Edelman, who is now himself a free agent.
Will the Patriots allow history to repeat itself and let Edelman walk?
New England has Danny Amendola under contract, which many have said makes it less likely the Patriots break out their checkbook for Edelman.
Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran says the two players (and Welker) aren't necessarily the same type of player.
"[Edelman]’s a little bit bigger, he’s a lot faster than either of those guys and he’s probably stronger than both of those guys," says Curran.
"I can see the Patriots saying ‘you know what, we’re not redundant in spending this kind of money on Julian Edelman as a free agent. We do have him as a different kind of receiver than Welker or Amendola.’”
Throughout the season Edelman demonstrated an ability to play outside the numbers, get down field and make back-shoulder catches - something more common for an outside receiver than a slot guy.
Edelman has never had a big payday (by NFL standards) and he may very well try to chase the biggest contract he can find. But what kind of deal will that be?
"We all know when Wes Welker looked elsewhere he wasn’t able to find anything nearly what he expected," says Curran.
Realistically, Edelman shouldn't expect to top the $6 million mark, which is right around what Welker and Amendola got in their last contracts. It's also important to remember that 2013 was the first time Edelman stayed healthy for a full season. That may keep the competition from laying down the big bucks and allow Brady to keep looking Edelman's way in 2014.