Welker not surprised by Patriots hardball


Welker not surprised by Patriots hardball

PEABODY -- Wes Welker knew all along that the Patriots would play hardball before handing him a long-term contract.

He knows New England's history for making its best players fight for top-dollar deals. He had seen it play out before.

The Patriots did it with Deion Branch, who held out until he was traded to Seattle and rewarded with a big-money contract there.

They did it with Asante Samuel. He played under the franchise tag for a season and then went to Philadelphia to get his pay day.

Vince Wilfork skipped organized team activities in 2009 before showing up to camp and eventually getting taken care of.

Logan Mankins fought the longest and hardest, holding out of six regular season games in 2010 before the Patriots made him the highest-paid guard in the league.

The Patriots even made Welker's best buddy -- the best player in the history of the franchise -- Tom Brady squirm briefly before giving him what he deserved.

So is Welker surprised that the Patriots are balking at a long-term deal, even though they have said it is their goal to get him locked up for multiple years? Of course not.

"No. It's pretty consistent," Welker said of the Patriots' negotiation tactics. "You learn from it. And at the same time, you just appreciate being able to go out there and play the game, appreciate the fact that you got the opportunity to win a lot of ball games. I look forward to that."

After Welker signed his franchise tender, he told the Boston Herald that he didn't think holding out would help his chances at a long-term contract.

History shows that isn't always true. When Patriots players have held out, some have been rewarded with generous deals (see above). But in some of those cases, their rewards came from another franchise in another city.

That seems to matter to Welker. On Saturday, he repeatedly intimated how much he enjoys being a part of the Patriots franchise and wants to stay there.

"I enjoy playing. I enjoy being out there. I enjoy being a Patriot," he said. "All those things go in together and we get paid to do it -- paid handsomely. I'm excited about that."

Welker also reitterated that his love of football is what helped force him to sign his franchise tender when he did. The thought of missing organized team activities didn't appeal to him.

He admitted that his passion for football may have worked against him during the course of his long-term contract negotiations.

"Maybe," he said. "I'm not too worried about it. I love playing, and I think that's something I need to put into perspective more. Not so much the business side of it. I enjoy playing, enjoy going out there being out there with my teammates and playing the game I love. I think that's the key thing I can do. The rest will take care of itself.