Welker says he's hands-off on negotiations


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.

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'


Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."