Report: Welker contract talks have 'gotten worse'

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Report: Welker contract talks have 'gotten worse'

When Wes Welker decided to sign his 9.5 million franchise tender earlier this week, many were left to ponder the same question: Why?

Welker loves football, and it would have pained him to miss next week's OTAs. But by signing his guaranteed one-year deal -- and hoping that the Patriots would eventually reward him with a long-term contract -- he relinquished almost all leverage in negotiations.

Now it appears as though the receiver is realizing how his "leap of faith" move has been received by the Patriots. He told Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald that long-term contract negotiations have "gotten worse" since he signed his franchise tender.

There have been talks, but nothing thats brightened anything at all, Welker told the Herald. Its actually gotten worse.

Welker went on to say that the Patriots' offer is actually less than the two-year, 16 million fully-guaranteed contract that was offered to him during the 2011 regular season.

Welker knows he could have held out. He knows he could have tried to make the Patriots sweat. But in the end, he also knows how things work in Foxboro. He told the Herald he thinks a holdout would have done nothing in terms of forcing the franchise's hand.

I think those techniques work better with other teams. I think the best thing you can do, as far as the Patriots, is be there and let them make the decision if they want to do something longterm or not, said Welker. Obviously, I want to be there. I want to help the team win. I want a championship and all those things. Im trying to do everything to make that happen, and Ill let everything else take care of itself.

It's a credit to Welker that his attitude hasn't shifted toward disgruntled, even as contract negotiations have been thrown in reverse.

The balls in their court. I just want to play, he said. At the end of the day, if its one year, 9.5 million, its one year, 9.5 million. Im good with that.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)