Hey Jonathan Kraft, I know you were asked a question, but stop talking about Wes Welker.
Kraft, the New England Patriots‘ president, is now saying Welker could have stayed in New England and made more money than he is making playing for the Denver Broncos, but Welker’s agent played him. Kraft spoke while participating in the “Building a Dynasty” panel session at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at the Hynes Convention Center. Former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson also participated.
Before the 2013 season, Welker was a free agent and he signed a two-year contract worth $12 million to play in Denver. ESPN Boston columnist Jackie MacMullan was the panel’s operator and she asked Kraft to explain the Patriots not re-signing Welker and why they signed Danny Amendola. Kraft spoke of how the Patriots had franchised Welker the season before and that they wanted to work out a long-term deal. Kraft explained that the Patriots had offered Wes a three-year deal the prior summer that was financially better than what Welker signed for in Denver.
Kraft advised the Patriots were willing to offer that deal at that time based on Welker’s production and his age. He also said that after a year into the process of negotiations, the Patriots still had a particular value for Welker in their mind, but Welker and his agent thought his value would be greater in the open market. The Patriots offered Welker another deal after the 2012 season, but once they felt they would be unable to re-sign Welker they had to go with plan B, which they were already working on, and they signed Amendola.
I understand that Kraft was asked a question, but everyone already knew Welker could have made more money if he had stayed in New England. It is possible Welker and his agent were overly optimistic about the market for Welker’s services, but Welker most likely left New England for reasons other than money, mainly his feeling stifled by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Whether Welker is correct in feeling that way is up for debate, but Jackie, who is a fantastic journalist, should not have asked about Welker at this point and Kraft did not need to elaborate.
The Patriots moved on, playing the entire 2013 season without Welker and they do not miss him. It seems petty and irrelevant to talk about Welker now and to try to provide reasons why he is no longer in New England. Welker is no longer a member of the Patriots, and the entire Patriots organization needs to focus on the future, not the past.
The Patriots should be focused on what they need to do to get over the hump and get back to the Super Bowl. There are plenty of needs New England needs to fill, and not one of them is slot receiver.