BOSTON (CBS) — Wes Welker’s caught a lot of passes, and he’s made a ton of money, but he also has a long memory.
Though Monday’s deadline for teams to use the franchise tag came and went without the New England Patriots applying the tag on Welker, the two sides remain locked in contract negotiations. They have until March 12 to agree to a deal. After that, Welker would hit the free-agent market, available to the highest bidder.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole, those negotiations are “difficult,” with Welker harboring some bad feelings toward the team. Cole reported:
What’s important to consider is Welker’s somewhat mild disdain for the Patriots right now, according to a source close to the player. Welker apparently is a little miffed at how he was treated in last year’s opener, when offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had him targeted for a season-low five pass attempts that resulted in a season-low three receptions.
That bit of tweaking stuck in Welker’s craw all season. So did the notion that if tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski hadn’t both gotten hurt at different times, there’s a strong belief that Welker would have been limited to far fewer than the 118 receptions he finished with last season. In short, there’s a little paranoia in the Welker camp these days about his role with the Pats.
Last season, the Patriots used the franchise tag on Welker, which gave him a $9.5 million salary for one year of work. The media speculated early in the season that the team was “phasing out” Welker from the offense, with the possibility of perhaps trading him away. However, with the aforementioned injuries to the tight ends, as well as to Julian Edelman, Welker ended up being Tom Brady’s most reliable target for the fifth time in as many years (Welker was also Matt Cassel’s most-used option in 2008).
Despite the reported negative feelings, USA Today reported that “there’s reason to be optimistic a deal will get done.” CSNNE also reported that the two sides have made progress, so it seems as though a three-year contract might be enough to wash away that “mild disdain.”
98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zo discuss the way Wes Welker feels about the he way he was utilized used this year.