Welker's tag ambivalence good sign for Pats


Welker's tag ambivalence good sign for Pats

The chance Wes Welker would refuse to sign his franchise tag and stick it to the Patriots has always seemed remote.

Tuesday at the Nike uniform unveiling in New York came an indication that that tactic isn't even on his radar.

Asked about the 9.5 million franchise tag he has yet to sign, Welker told reporters, "It will be half of what I made my whole contract this past time around. Not too bad. ...Not really. That's a lot of money, so I'm definitely kind of excited about it."

If Welker wanted to be militant, if he wanted to make the Patriots squirm some he'd skip passing camps and minicamps and training camp and gum up the works but good.

But it's pretty clear he won't do that, otherwise he wouldn't be sounding giddy about the financial windfall he's going to get.

This is not shaping up as a rancorous contract battle. Impasse is probably more accurate.

The Patriots' offer of 8 million per year over two years was rejected in the fall. The market established by free agents this season have made it apparent the going rate for a very good wide receiver is about 9.5 million.

If Welker plays for the franchise number this year and next, he'll make close to 21 million. If the Patriots want to make it simple on everyone, they'd simply sign him to a two-year, 20 million deal now and be done with it.

My feeling is that Welker would grab the pen from their hands.

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan


Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.