For the first time since New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker made comments that negotiations for a long-term deal were not going well, Patriots owner Robert Kraft responded. While Kraft attempted to sound confident that a deal would get done, his comments still make it seem doubtful.
After signing his franchise tender last week, Welker told the media that negotiations for a long-term deal had gotten worse. Prior to that, both sides had been sounding positive that a deal could be reached to keep Welker in New England for the foreseeable future.
Kraft talked to the media Tuesday saying that he’d like to keep Welker a “Patriot for life”. He explained that the Patriots understand the cap, how much room they have, and how much they value Welker’s position but that his representation were trying to get every last dollar for their client.
Kraft’s comments on negotiations with Welker seem to confirm Welker’s assessment last week. While Patriots management usually attempt keep quiet on such topics as contract negotiations, Welker has forced the Patriots to comment.
When asked about Welker speaking publicly on negotiations, Kraft tried to sound nonchalant. “Anyone can say whatever they want” the 70-year old owner said. But while his words sounded as though the Patriots were not concerned with the lack of progress, his demeanor showed frustration.
Welker was the Patriots top receiver in 2011 and looks to be their second receiver in 2012 behind Brandon Lloyd. With the numbers he’s produced over the past five years, losing Welker at any point would be a tremendous loss to the Patriots. With a stout offense and a defense that needs work, losing Welker would force the Patriots to temporarily turn their focus away from what is now their top priority, defense.
As the 2012 season approaches, both sides will continue to attempt to come to an agreement that will satisfy both parties. Until then however, it seems 2012 may be the final year for one of the most popular players on the New England Patriots.