Mike from Attleboro -- the leading contributor to Michael Felger's old mailbag and one of Felger's favorite callers to his radio show -- is now contributing occasional pieces to CSNNE.com. Today he gives his take on Wes Welker signing with the Denver Broncos.
By Mike from Attleboro
It used to be a word that was once synonymous with savvy personnel decisions and championship rallies. Now it’s somewhere between “Tyree” and “catheter” as a word Patriots fans loathe to hear. “Value” is why Wes Welker is no longer a Patriot. “Value” is why wide receiver/invalid Danny Amendola is here to replace him. “Value” is why question marks now swirl furiously around a team that has been a perennial contender.
This leads me to one simple question: What is it that the Patriots really “Value”?
Do the Patriots “Value” signing the player for the right price? They didn’t yesterday.
Shopping at Walmart. That was how this free agent season was being billed as the legal tampering period was drawing to a close. For the first time in almost a decade, the NFL salary cap was actually forcing teams to discard expensive yet still useful players. Experts were saying it was going to be a buyer’s market and there would be “Value” everywhere!
And they were right. There were rollbacks at almost every position. Especially slot receiver.
If the everyday low price of two years at twelve million for Wes Welker was too rich for Bob Kraft and Bill Belichick’s blood, I guess we can rule out Walmart ever becoming a tenant at Patriot Place.
Wes Welker was allowed to leave after his price tag was slashed by over 33% a year. Forget Walmart, if Welker was a wedding dress, he would have caused a Filene’s Basement Bridal cage match. But instead of capitalizing on that “value”, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft went shopping at the scratched, dented and maimed outlet for Amendola. Amendola’s injury history over the last two years should have repulsed every team but the Red Sox. Yet they handed him a five-year deal with almost as much guaranteed cash as Welker. Where is the Value in that?
Do the Patriots “Value” their quarterback? They certainly “Value” his trust. Rewarding it is another story…
Just a couple of weeks ago, Tom Brady looked like the consummate team player as his reworked contract saved the Pats $15 million over the next two years. Everyone, including probably Brady, thought this would insure Welker’s return. Now he just seems like a rube that, for the second time in his career, allowed Bill and Bob to pull the wool over his eyes.
That’s how Belichick and Kraft made Tom Brady look: Foolish. He was foolish to trust Kraft and Belichcik to do the right thing by him and keep his favorite receiver. He was foolish to believe that after renegotiating his deal, the Patriots would actually use his cap savings to go over the top to build a champion. He was foolish to think that this time, as his career is winding down, maybe his team wouldn’t nickel and dime it’s best players in the name of “Value”.
Is Brady this dumb? I hope not, but Gisele might want to monitor her husband’s e-mail account closely. If Brady’s dense enough to think restructuring his contract would keep his favorite receiver in town, TWICE, who knows how many times Tommy thinks he’s been named the new Prince of Togo, pending a small cash deposit for inauguration expenses.
But we all know this isn’t about Brady’s intelligence. It’s about the “Value” the Patriots place on the selflessness of the franchises’ greatest employee. It’s clear now that Bill and Bob believe the only “Value” in Brady’s magnanimous gesture is as a hammer and anvil to pound team-friendly deals from free agents in the name of the “Patriot Way”, not as the foundation to build a football juggernaut.
Do the Patriots value a competitive advantage? If it only costs the team a video assistant’s salary and some blank tapes (and a 1st round pick, Oops!), Belichick is all for it.
But apparently a couple million is too steep to keep one of your team’s best weapons out of your chief rival’s hands. Peyton Manning’s chronic case of post season posterior leakage is well known. Just a touch of playoff tribulation goes through him like bad clams. So what better way to keep his colon from entering full defibrillation than giving him the most reliable possession receiver in the NFL?
In 2006 when Peyton’s boozebag kicker was slicing pigskin like Oscar Meyer, Bill Polian paid Adam Viniteri for Manning to be his postseason crutch and was able to nurse him to a Championship. Not only has John Elway given Manning a sure-handed dose of Imodium, but, just like Polian, he did it at the Patriots expense.
Baltimore was hemorrhaging starters. The Broncos were the Patriots only real roadblock to a Superbowl. Only a couple million dollars is all it would have taken to keep the balance of AFC power in Foxboro. But apparently there isn’t “Value” in keeping Welker’s immaculate pass routes from Manning’s bulbous dome. 2 Million was too much “Value” to sacrifice to not only keep Brady’s favorite target, but potentially prevent him from shredding your sieve-like pass defense.
No Patriots fans. “Value” at Patriot Place has an entirely different meaning. It means raking players over the coals when you have the slightest hint of leverage. It means stubbornly adhering to company best practices while simultaneously throwing away employee generosity. It means winning negotiations is more important than winning games.
Because of your Patriots interpretation of “Value”, Manning will be connecting to his new crutch while The Prince of Togo will try to complete passes to a guy on crutches.
Don’t you just love a bargain?