Welker not surprised by Patriots hardball

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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.

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."

Report: Patriots asked Seahawks about a trade for Richard Sherman

Report: Patriots asked Seahawks about a trade for Richard Sherman

PHOENIX -- The Patriots pulled off what many considered a surprise free-agent signing when they acquired corner Stephon Gilmore. As it turns out, before they picked up the former Bills cover man, they inquried about a separate move that would have been even more eye-opening. 

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, ahead of coming to a deal with Gilmore, the Patriots were among the teams that spoke to the Seahawks about a potential trade for Richard Sherman.

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During the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday morning at the Arizona Biltmore, Seattle coach Pete Carroll acknowledged that multiple teams have contacted the Seahawks about Sherman. But, Carroll said, "I don't see anything happening at all."

Sherman, who turns 29 next season, will make $11.431 million for 2017. He's due $11 million in the final year of his contract in 2018.