Curran: Welker extension - or lack thereof - a minor deal

721562.jpg

Curran: Welker extension - or lack thereof - a minor deal

Would it be nice if, by 4 p.m. Monday, Wes Welker posted a cute little "Sticking around for the long-term, WOOT, WOOT! PatriotsNation" entry on Twitter.

Sure.

Even though Welker was nicely compensated from 2007 through 2011 (18 million), he's been a relative NFL bargain compared to his wide receiver peers. A different kind of receiver than Calvin and Andre Johnson? Yes. But while not a game-breaker on their level, he is every bit the headache for defenses that they are.

He's played hurt, absorbed absurd levels of punishment, and returned quickly from serious injury. Great guy in the locker room, trusted friend and teammate of the best player the Patriots franchise will ever have, what's not to like?

Beyond all that, the Patriots -- when guaranteeing Welker his 9.5 million salary for 2012 -- pledged to work to give Welker what he believed he deserved. A long(er) term agreement.

The day the team franchised Welker, their statement was, "Wes Welker is a remarkable football player for our team and has been a vital component to our offense and special teams since we traded for him in 2007. Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal."Wes remains a contractual priority and we are hopeful that he will remain a Patriot for years to come."The extra time the two sides bought has been wasted. Sources have told me there have been no realistic proposals that approached the money Welker was looking for (a figure north of 20 million over the next two seasons).

The Patriots floated Welker a two-year, 16 million proposal last fall and haven't moved far from that.

And unless things change drastically from where they were Sunday afternoon, there will be no deal.

Welker could have been a pain in the ass about being franchised. He could have held out into training camp. Instead, he signed early and said on Twitter "I love the game and I love my teammates! Hopefully doing the right thing gets the right results. leapoffaith"

Have the Patriots "done the right thing"? Business-wise, probably.

If Welker plays well and stays healthy this year, they can just franchise him again next year and he'll get more than 11 million and will be paid for two franchised seasons about what he's looking for now.

And the Patriots will be off the hook if his leg falls off this year or his production falls off the table. Neither scenario is likely.

In terms of employee relations, the Patriots are hard-lining another deserving player, making him sweat and causing unnecessary agitation and mistrust.

To which they would likely say, "So?" The Patriots have taken PR hits before and been harangued for being cheap by bleeding heart media and fans. And they still come out smiling and hoisting trophies.

Welker's here for 2012. What's he gonna do, drape a "Patriots Unfair to Slot Receivers" sign around his neck and picket the sidelines?

The deadline will likely come and go, we'll ask Welker at training camp if he's upset he didn't get a long-term deal, he'll say he's moving on and so will we.

Personally, I feel it's the wrong thing to do. But on the grand scale of injustice we'll see on the planet today, it's less than a speck.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”