CBS Sports – Wes Welker did everything a player is supposed to do. Like many in the NFL, he worked hard. While it has always been juvenile and simple minded to portray Welker as this scrappy little white dude playing a position mostly populated by blacks, utilizing only grit, mental acuity and duct tape — Welker is straight up talented, period — he has indeed been one of those men who made the most of his abilities. He rarely complained publicly about his contract status. He just produced Hall of Fame numbers… Oh, and there was something else: trust in the Patriots they would one day take care of him… but from a football standpoint, [Welker is] absolutely … totally … screwed.Welker’s signing of the tag this year, instead of potentially holding out, was an olive branch. The Patriots took that branch, applied a saw, and then ate it with some fava beans and a nice Chianti…Would it kill the Patriots, one of the great organizations in all of sports, to show an ounce of loyalty to a person who has been so loyal to them? Just an ounce? …There had to be a way for this to work — for Welker to get some long-term comfort and the Patriots to get what they wanted; for the Patriots to keep a valued player, maybe until he retires, and Welker to get security. You would have hoped that some way, somehow, loyalty would have mattered.
When the Pats first put the Franchise Tag on Welker, I offered a handy reference guide to how these prolonged contract negotiations always play out in the media. For those of you scoring along at home, this would put us at:
Phase 5: Wave the Bloody Shirt [if your name is Ron Borges]. Find a disgruntled ex-Patriots player (Asante Samuel. Seymour) to complain about how badly mistreated he was. Do the whole “Workers of the World, Unite” thing, portraying Mr. Kraft like he’s Andrew Carnegie and Belichick is Henry Clay Frick, crushing the resistance of the poor working stiffs at the Homestead Mill.
The only surprising thing about this is that it’s by a national writer who beat all the local grudge-holders and axe-grinders to the punch. Part of me would like to think it’s because the Boston guys have been cowed into submission by a decade of the Pats’ system working beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations. Though I’d be stunned if Borges isn’t on the phone right now with Samuel and getting a fistful of juicy quotes out of The Corner With the “Get Paid” Tattoo for tomorrow’s hatchet piece. Because it’s all these guys know. “The Patriots = Greedy & Disloyal; Players = Oppressed & Exploited” is their story and they’re sticking to it. It doesn’t matter if they said the same thing about the Wilfork contract talks or Brady’s or Mankins and all those guys became the highest paid players in their positions ever. Or that the club re-upped Gronk 2 years early for another record deal. Or that there are currently 8 other Franchised guys in the league who didn’t work out extensions. Or even that Welker hasn’t said one goddamned discouraging word about any of this or missed a single workout. The press knows better that he’s just a naive, squarepantsed little fry cook getting abused by the greedy owner of the Krusty Kraft. The idea that maybe Welker is simply asking more than they’re willing to pay a 32 year old slot receiver never enters the equation. For the record, I’m saying they work out a deal at the end of 2012 and in the meantime Welker is plenty happy to collect Andre Johnson/Steve Smith money for one year. Then we’ll get to do this all again with Aaron Hernandez. @JerryThornton1