There is a school of thought out there that the departure of Wes Welker was part of a larger plan to change the Patriots’ offense to make it more tight end-centric and get the ball more vertical than it has been in recent seasons.

If so, it raises one question: What’s that got to do with Welker?

In 2007 the Patriots were about as vertical an offense as you could imagine, finishing first in every important offensive category including points, yards, passing yards, first downs and receiving touchdowns. They set an all-time record with 589 points, averaged 36.8 points per game and became the only team in NFL history to go 16-0 in the regular season. A big part of that offense was Welker, who tied for the NFL lead with 112 catches for 1,175 yards — but the bigger part was the presence of a vertical deep threat, Randy Moss.

Six years later, the Patriots allegedly want to change their offense to feature tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and also get more balls outside the numbers and downfield. The theory goes that they were easily defended because they had too many receivers in the middle of the field and needed a vertical threat.

If so, why’d they replace one slot receiver for a higher paid one who plays half as often? And how’d they score all those points?