Did the New England Patriots' low-ball offer to Wes Welker truly open up his free agency? That might be the case.
Did the rest of the NFL assume Welker would return and not bother making a legitimate run at the receiver? Possibly.
One thing is certain: Welker wasn't happy with the offer. And strange things can happen when someone feels slighted or disrespected. Welker carved out a niche (five 111-plus reception and 1,100-plus yard seasons) in New England, and despite any posturing, Welker probably thought the organization would present a workable deal. That, apparently, didn't happen.