Welker's other piece of leverage

722858.jpg

Welker's other piece of leverage

By now, you've heard the story of Wes Welker, the Patriots receiver who took a leap of faith and landed in a pile of poo. Or so it seems.

According to Welker, negotiations for a long term deal have gotten worse since he signed his franchise tender. This is a development that surprises no one, seeing how Welker's decision was met with almost universal confusion. The major question being: Why did he just piss away his only leverage?

The answer was, and is, that Welker loves football. He loves being a part of the team. He believes that if he does the right thing, the Patriots will follow suit and everyone will live happily ever after. So, far that's not the case.

But in our rush to declare Welker's leverage dead and buried, I think there's one major trump card that's being overlooked.

A 6-4, fashion maven with gooey, slicked back hair, a pension for Brazilian delicacies and three shiny Super Bowl rings. Of course, I'm talking about Lonnie Paxton.

Nah. Tom Brady. Welker's best bud. The guy who's spent the off-season as publicly attached to Welker as he's been to any teammate over more than a decade in Foxboro. The pair and just as importantly, their families have been seen vacationing in Costa Rica and partying at the Kentucky Derby. They're the rich man's Romo and Witten. At this point, they're much more than teammates. They're brothers. And brothers gotta hug, man.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Shut up. It's a business. Friendships don't matter.

And that might be true. And believe me, I'm not saying that the Patriots' treatment of Welker would or will reflect poorly in Brady's play. This isn't Rondo and Perk. Brady's been there. He's used to it. He's jaded. Over that last 12 years, he's said goodbye to more friends and teammates than most players ever meet. A few weeks ago, he said goodbye to Matt Light. In a few months, he'll say goodbye to Kevin Faulk. And who knows? Maybe even Deion Branch. Brady knows this is a business and can separate himself from the BS. If he couldn't, he wouldn't be here anymore.

But there's something about his relationship with Welker that just feels different. There's a bond on and off the field, that seems especially important. Take a look again at the last paragraph. The fact that pretty much everyone that Brady came in with has now moved on. Consider the fact that as he gets older, and the rest of team gets younger, it will become increasingly difficult for him to relate, be apart of the team and feel like he has any connection or anything in common with the guys he shares a locker room with.

You don't think he could use a friend? You don't think he wants one? You don't think that, in Wes Welker, he's found a guy who he can connect with on a special level and has granted access to a part of his life that's kept closed to almost everyone else. And as cruel and heartless as Belichick might be, you don't think he finds it important to keep Brady happy?

When you throw in the fact that between the lines in terms of production, a commitment to winning and willingness to put everything on the line in the name of the team Wes Welker is just about everything you can ever ask for in a player, it just makes sense that these two sides will eventually find a common ground and have a happy and healthy future.

If not, the world and the team will go on. It always does. But when we talk about Welker's leverage, I don't think we can overlook the obvious: That even if he only has one other guy on his side, that guy just happens to be the most important player in Patriots franchise history.

You could do a lot worse.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.

05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.

10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati. 

16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.  

Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

patriots-amendola-112016.jpg

Danny Amendola embraces delayed follow-up to strong Week 1 performance

This actually won’t be the first time that Danny Amendola had to wait to follow up a strong season-opener with the Pats. 

As the veteran receiver aims to return Sunday from a concussion and knee injury after leaving the Pats’ Week 1 loss early and missing Week 2 altogether, he’ll try to build a Week 1 performance that saw him lead the Pats with 100 yards on six receptions. 

The stop and start is somewhat reminiscent of Amendola’s first year with New England in 2013, when he had 10 receptions for 104 yards in the season-opener. He suffered a groin injury in that game, however, and didn’t play again until Week 5. At least the wait is shorter this time around. 

MORE: 

“I mean, there’s going to be bumps and bruises along the way, but that’s football, right?” Amendola said Friday. “But I feel really good today, feel strong, so get ready tomorrow and just continue to prepare.”

In that first game back in 2013, Amendola again led the Pats in receiving yards, but it was in a terrible offensive showing for New England. All it took was four receptions for 55 yards to be the Patriots’ best receiver in a 13-6 loss to Cincinnati in which Tom Brady had a rare scoreless game. 

If Amendola can pick up where he left off in Week 1, the Pats will be in good shape. They’re also expected to have Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan ready to go, but Amendola was Tom Brady’s most reliable weapon in the Chiefs game, even though Brandin Cooks made a bigger impact with two pass interference penalties drawn in the red zone. 

Not known for his durability towards the end of his time in St. Louis, this will be the fourth of Amendola’s five regular seasons in New England in which he didn’t play in all 16 games. He played the full season in 2014, 14 games in 2015 and 12 games in 2013 and 2016. 

With Julian Edelman out, Brady could certainly use Amendola’s services as often as possible. That’s especially if he plays the way he did in Week 1. 

CSNNE SCHEDULE