Kraft says Patriots made better offer to Welker
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2012, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) returns a punt during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Foxborough, Mass. The Denver Broncos have found a new target for Peyton Manning, agreeing to a two-year deal with Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Newly acquired Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker speaks at an NFL football news conference announcing his $12 million, two-year contract, Thursday, March 14, 2013, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
PHOENIX – New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft delivered several messages yesterday at the NFL meetings.
He claimed his team’s contract offer to Wes Welker was better than what the receiver got in Denver. Kraft said Welker’s agent, David Dunn, “misrepresented” Welker’s market value.
And Kraft made it clear who is boss in New England.
When asked about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being upset that Welker left after Brady reworked his own contract, Kraft said: “I don’t answer to Tom Brady. He’s an important member of the team and we chatted.”
“He did what he did to put us in the best position to build a team around him and win games,” Kraft added. “But he has never, as it has been reported that he, or people close to him, have made certain comments, but none of that is true. I’ve spoken with him directly. Whoever is creating that impression is mistaken.
“He has never put a demand” on the Patriots.
Welker got a two-year, $12 million deal with the Broncos. Kraft said Welker could have received $8 million in the first year of a two-year contract with New England worth $10 million overall, as opposed to $6 million he gets in Denver.
“And there is no guarantee that he plays the second year there,” Kraft added.
Dunn did not immediately respond to messages from the Associated Press for comment.
The Patriots paid the two-time All-Pro receiver $9.55 million under the franchise tag in 2012 after Welker felt he was being lowballed on a new deal and could not reach agreement on a long-term contract. He then had his fifth season with at least 111 catches, making 118 receptions for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns.
New England didn’t tag Welker again, balking at paying the game’s best slot receiver the required 20 percent raise for a second-time franchise player.
Now, he’s a Bronco, going from being Brady’s favorite target to catching passes from Peyton Manning. Not a bad neighborhood to move to.
But Kraft was adamant yesterday that he wanted Welker to remain in New England.
“We usually don’t talk about contracts, but I’d like to clear up what I think is some misconception about the Wes situation,” Kraft said.
“Everyone in our organization wanted Wes Welker back. Anyone who doubts that, or thinks we weren’t serious, just doesn’t get it. I really wanted Wes to be with us through the rest of his career, but it takes two sides to do a deal.”
When he joined the Broncos last week, Welker refused to criticize the Patriots, although he made it clear he felt his time in New England had come to a close.
“I’d definitely like to thank New England for the six years there, all the trust and everything they put in me,” Welker said. “As free agency kind of went on, I kind of got the feeling that it was time to start looking for other opportunities. Denver, I felt, would be a great fit for me.”