On Tuesday in New York, Nike and the NFL unveiled the new uniforms for each of the 32 teams. Changing companies from Reebok to Nike, the uniforms are generally well liked and other than the Seattle Seahawks, have stayed relatively unchanged for the teams. However, for the New England Patriots, the most noticeable aspect was who represented the team.
During the unveiling, each team had a player representative present to show off their new apparel. For the Patriots, that representative was wide receiver Wes Welker. Welker has been with the Patriots since 2007 and is coming off the best season of his career in which he tallied 122 receptions for 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns. But this summer Welker has been in a tussle with Patriots management over a contract extension which has resulted in the team giving him the franchise tag.
While the Patriots have made clear their intention of keeping Welker on the team for the foreseeable future and Welker has made clear that he would like to remain a Patriot, playing under the franchise tag still leaves the question of whether he will return in 2013. Seeing how it is still unclear whether or not Welker will be returning after this coming season, it’s interesting that he was the team’s representative.
Welker has been by far the most talked about current player on the roster. The negotiations between the Patriots and Welker have been one of the most important story lines for the franchise. So it’s interesting that the team would put Welker in the spotlight with that going on. On Welker’s part, he didn’t make any waves. As expected, most media questions were about his contract situation and he was quite reluctant to give anything away.
Reporters tried to get information out of Welker but he gave answers you might expect out of a veteran New England Patriot. He said he’s fine with the franchise tag and is excited to remain a Patriot. If there is any resentment over being given the tag or frustration over not negotiating a long term deal, it wasn’t seen Tuesday.
As for the Patriots new uniforms, there is nothing new that can be observed by spectators. The material, weight, and cut may be different but visually they are the same they have been since 2000. When asked how the new uniforms felt, Welker said there’s more flexibility and it “fits to your body” better. The new uniforms will make their debut during week one of the preseason in August when the Patriots take on the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium.