Welker regrets 'foot' comments about Ryan

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Welker regrets 'foot' comments about Ryan

Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker told the Boston Herald's Karen Guregian that he regrets poking fun at Jets coach Rex Ryan in his midweek press conference prior to the New England-New York playoff game, saying, "As much you might want to get enticed into that stuff, at the end of the day, its just not worth it."

Welker was benched by coach Bill Belichick for the first series of the game, reportedly because of the comments. (Welker made 10 references to feet or toes in speaking to reporters, oblique mentions of Ryan's foot fetish, in response to the Jets' relentless, sometimes-obscene trash talking of the Pats in the runup to the game.) Neither Belichick nor Welker would discuss the benching after the game.

But Welker, when asked if he regretted it, said, "Yeah, sure I do."

He added: "Im not going to get into any details about it, but I dont think its worth putting Belichick in that situation . . .

"You know what, I think the best way to stick up for your teammate is on the field. I like the fact we dont get caught up in all that stuff. At the end of the day, its about football. Thats what its supposed to be about. Thats all that matters. Its concentrating on your job and what you do, and not concentrating on the riff-raff that goes with all that other stuff. Its about the team and going out there and playing good football. And not getting caught up in all the media hype. Its just not worth it.

"Its not always easy to keep a lid on it, but at the same time, theres a greater goal, and thats winning the game and playing good football. Thats what matters. All that other stuff doesnt matter at the end of the day."

But when asked if he was happy the Jets were beaten by the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game and failed to make the Super Bowl, Welker -- who, according to Guregian, "carefully chose his answer" -- repsonded with a smile: "I think if you're a Patriot fan, a little bit."

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Collins' new contract may influence Patriots' negotiations with Hightower

Collins' new contract may influence Patriots' negotiations with Hightower

FOXBORO -- Jamie Collins and the Cleveland Browns are reportedly closing in on a contract that will turn the ex-Pat's place of exile into his long-term place of work. 

That's interesting in itself. The Browns must have made it clear to Collins he was getting franchised, otherwise you'd think Collins would want to get out there and test the market for at least a couple of days when free agency rolled around. 

It will also be interesting for Collins' former teammate in New England, Dont'a Hightower. While the Patriots aren't going to let the Browns dictate their market and offers when it comes to negotiating with Hightower, Collins' contract will be a useful comp for Hightower. 

Whatever Collins gets, Hightower can make the case for a fair amount more. Hightower is the centerpiece of the Patriots defense, a run-stopper, blitzer, leader and tone-setter. From the jersey number (Tedy Bruschi's old number 54) they encouraged him to wear, to selecting him captain, the team and Hightower's teammates have stated how important he is to the club. 

Hightower on the open market would be in line for a contract in the $10 million-per-year range, with a total value of around $50 million (using Luke Kuechly, Navarro Bowman, Bobby Wagner and Lawrence Timmons as comparable players). The Patriots can franchise Hightower just as easily as the Browns could have franchised Collins. The sticking point for the player is that he doesn't realize the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal. The injury Sword of Damocles dangles every day. 

In other words, Collins' influence on the Patriots isn't done yet. 

Report: Chip Kelly was scheduled to meet with Bill Belichick recently

Report: Chip Kelly was scheduled to meet with Bill Belichick recently

FOXBORO -- Might Chip Kelly be working for the Patriots at some point in the near future? One report calls New England a "logical" landing spot for the former Eagles and 49ers head coach. 

According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Kelly "was headed to New England to meet with [Bill] Belichick" once he found out that he was no longer in the running for the offensive coordinator job in Jacksonville. 

Kelly was fired by the 49ers after one season as head coach and has been interested in continuing his career as an NFL coach, per Mortensen. Kelly coached the Eagles for three seasons, going 26-21.

Belichick openly threw his support behind Kelly after he was let go by Philadelphia on New Year's Eve in 2015.

"I would say it's actually disappointing," Belichick said at the time. "Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. He does a great job. I think he's done a good job with that team. It's disappointing to see . . . Pretty much everybody's on a one-year contract in this league. I don't know how you build a program in one year. 

"Chip's a great coach. He'll end up somehwere and he'll do a great job there. I'd say a lot of the players that were on the Eagles that are no longer on the Eagles aren't really doing too much for anybody else, either."

Mortensen opines that the Belichick-Kelly connection would make sense because of their tight bond. 

"The friendship between Kelly and [Belichick] is no secret," Mortensen wrote. "They have exchanged football concepts since Kelly's fast-tempo offense became the rage at Oregon."

Per Mortensen, Kelly was considered an asset by executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, and he was in the running for a job there, yet new coach Doug Marrone saw Kelly as a bad "philosophical fit." 

Apparently that led to Kelly's planned visit here. 

There is history of the Patriots hiring friendly faces during the postseason. In 2012, Belichick re-hired Josh McDaniels to work with then offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who was set to take over Penn State's program after the season. McDaniels -- who had been the offensive coordinator for the Rams earlier that year -- re-claimed his role as offensive coordinator in New England the following season and has been in-house ever since. 

Kelly has no experience as one of Belichick's employees -- McDaniels, of course, rose through the coaching ranks in New England before being hired as head coach in Denver in 2009 -- but perhaps he is a candidate to fulfill a role similar to the one McDaniels was given before Super Bowl XLVI.