Welker says he's hands-off on negotiations

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Welker says he's hands-off on negotiations

FOXBORO -- Before the 2010 season, Tom Brady's contract was a huge issue. The best quarterback in football was entering the final year of his deal. Having blown out his knee in the 2008 opener, everybody was aware that Brady's football mortality was just a play away. If he got seriously hurt in 2010 without a new deal, he'd be damaged goods on the open market. The negotiations were a mudwrestle, though, and there was bitterness that it had to be that hard.

Ultimately, the Patriots got Brady signed just days before the opener. Coincidentally - and ironically - the quarterback was involved in a car accident on the morning of the day the agreement was finallyreached. Patriots owner Robert Kraft did allude to the accident as a catalyst for doing the right thing by Brady. "We have a saying that out of bad things good things can happen if managed properly. It put in perspective everything we're doing," RobertKraft said. "We're very, very lucky. Patriot Nation is lucky he had his seat belt on."Wes Welker is in a situation similar to Brady's. He blew out a knee in the final game of 2009 and he's very good. Welker's on a five-season statistical run that is as impressive at the wideout position as anything any player has ever done. But there are key differences with Welker. He's already in the final season of his deal and playing without a financial net if he gets twisted around. He's made a fraction of what Brady's made in this league. And if he gets blown up, the market for a twice-damaged receiver on the wrong side of 30 will be a lot drier than it would have been for Brady had he gotten hurt without a deal. Despite the apparent risk Welker's playing under, he told me on Tuesday he's keeping the issue out of his mind. "I mean, I've been doing this for a long time," he said. "I'm just trying to do the best I can to help the team."I have agents that take care of that part of things for me and to tell you the truth I take no part in any of it," Welker also said. "I don't want to talk about it, I don't really want to be involved with it I just want them to do their job and I'll do mine and at the end of the day, I'm not worried about it at all."OnMonday, Welker joked on the Dan Patrick Show that he's "about the 40th highest paid receiver in the league." He was quick to transition away from contract talk when Patrick asked a follow-up. Welker's agent is David Dunn, the man who once wrung a 103 million deal for Drew Bledsoe from the Patriots (New England played it smart with options in the Bledsoe deal that kept it from getting fleeced completely by Dwoo). Unlike the rancorous negotiations with Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins, and the impatience that was just below the surface with Brady, Welker hasn't slipped once in toeing the company line. Neither has Dunn. As a result, we know nothing of where things stand in negotiations other than some seemingly knowing proclamations by both Rodney Harrison and Michael Irvin that Welker's "not going anywhere."SoWelker chugs along with 41 more receptions than Chad Ochocinco (who will pull down 2 million more than Welker this year) and leaves the indignation to anyone who wants to pay attention to what's going on.

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski attended the Dayton 500 in true Gronkowski form.

He appeared to be there promoting Monster Energy drink, and was therefore hanging with the Monster Girls, who were also promoting the drink. Gronkowski's herniated disc injury, which required surgery in December 2016, does not seem to be slowing him down as he gets warmed up for the Summer of Gronk.

During the race coverage on FOX Sports, Gronk delivered a speed limit joke, which is sure to make the 13-year-old in you chuckle. (You can watch it here.)

[H/T NESN.com]

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

I think it’s time. Time to let the Deflategate wound scab over. Time to exit the active, raging, teeth-gnashing, petition-signing, lawsuit-filing portion of the program and let the hate follow its natural course into a slow-boil loathing.

If you are of Irish descent, you know how it works. Clear a big-ass space on the grudge shelf. Put Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash, Mike Kensil, Troy Vincent, Ryan Grigson, Jim Irsay, every shiv-wielding owner, all the cluck-clucking media and the legion of retired players and exiled GMs from Marshall Faulk to Joey Porter through Marty Hurney and into Bill Polian up there. Turn off light. Leave room.

When you need to piss yourself off -- in traffic, mowing the lawn, waiting for your coffee -- fetch ‘em down, blow the dust off and when you’re in a sufficiently foul mood, return grudge to shelf.

You rode the roller coaster. You’ve been there, done that and have all the T-shirts.

I came to this conclusion a few days ago, when ESPN’s Cari Champion interviewed Rob Gronkowski and asked about Goodell visiting Gillette. It was like playing “Get the Stick!” with a big goofy Lab. Champion threw the leading question, Gronk fetched -- tail-wagging --  and returned with a slobbery response that was completely implausible but still designed to dominate a four-hour news cycle.

"The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what,” said Gronkowski. “They have [Tom Brady’s] back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."

Gronk’s just doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do. And Champion is, too. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Watch these mooks up in New England get all pissed off: “Hey, hey, Chowderhead . . . Roger Goodell . . . . ”

“F*** that guy, he better never show his face in Foxboro! But I want him to come to Foxboro so I can boo the ever-living s*** out of him and maybe barricade Route 1 like Gronk said we would!”

See? Works every time.

The irony is that the person mainly responsible for turning up the burner on this is Robert Kraft.

In May 2015, Kraft said at the owners meetings in San Francisco, “I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric, and we won’t appeal.

“Now, I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision, but I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans, and the NFL, and I hope you all can respect that.”

Well, that blew up like an ACME bomb. And -- from that moment on -- Kraft has tried to recoup the fanbase that believed he sold them out by issuing a succession of calls-to-arms that the region has dutifully responded to.

The most recent was throwing down the gauntlet to Goodell by expressly inviting him to the 2017 season opener.  I mean, it would have been a conversation point anyway, but now it’s metastasized into something that will be discussed throughout the offseason, ratcheting up in early September and hitting a crescendo on opening night.

There is appeal to seeing Goodell squirm while knowing the Maras, Rooneys and Irsays will be sipping highballs and lamenting the caddish treatment of Poor Roger. But I still like the football better.

Conversation about the historic import of SB51, the legacy of Brady and Belichick, prospects for the league in 2017? I’ll take those rather than an ESPN “personality” who spent a weekend in Newburyport at a friend’s wedding telling everyone what the mindset of the New England sports fan is.  

But that’s not what we’re going to get. There will instead be ever-escalating predictions of the terrors Goodell will be subjected to fueled by interviews with tatted-up kids from the mean streets of Marshfield who wanted “Hoodie” fired when he let Revis sign with the Jets.

Unless . . . unless the region en masse decides to let its loathing mature. Mature to the point that when the carrot gets dangled in its collective face it doesn’t leap at it with teeth bared but instead says, “No thanks. Already full.”

Yeah. I don’t think it’s gonna happen either.