A hot point of contention for the New England Patriots this offseason was the future of star wide receiver Wes Welker. The two sides failed to reach a contract extension as No.83 will play out the season under the franchise tag, which is worth about $9.5 million. At the start of training camp this story will not go away. Jonathan Kraft is getting tired of the questioning regarding Welker’s contract. The Patriots president discussed the status of Tom Brady’s favorite target in the following interview with CBS Boston.
Jonathan Kraft joined 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston with Felger and Massarotti to discuss Wes Welker being a member of the New England Patriots next year, the struggle of agreeing on a long term contract for Welker, the possibility of using a franchise tag on Welker next year, not having any regrets in not locking up Welker for the future and Tom Brady playing for another five years.
Do you anticipate Wes Welker being with the team next year?
“He’s going to be with us this year for sure and I think both sides tried hard to get something done and Wes Welker is a professional. I think also the organization is professional and there’s a lot of mutual respect there and I think we’ll have a productive year and hopefully things will work out over the long run. It’s hard in the business to project a week out and to project 52 weeks out is just a lot to ask and probably not worth doing.”
Do you feel an emotional tug to take care of a player like Wes Welker because he’s taken the leap of faith by signing the franchise tender?
“Look, on a personal level Wes Welker is right there with anybody who has played for the team since our family has owned it. He’s the ultimate professional. He’s a great football player. A great person. He brings a huge amount of effort every time he steps into this building be it in March or April or be it in October or on a Sunday afternoon. Emotions have to stay out of it when you are looking at the dollars. The dollars under the…you and I debate this constantly and you are going to say you can do whatever you want under the salary cap and I am going to tell you that you can’t do whatever you want under the salary cap. But when you start looking at the business side of it and you have a scarce resource, which is cap space, you have to think through every one of the 53 slots and make sure you are making the right decision for this year, two-three-four years down the road. I think Wes or any player needs to think about it in the converse and needs to look at the landscape of the league and understand what is out there and you try to meet in the middle. When you are not able to do that it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s not a trust valuable relationship between the two parties. We have plenty of business situations where people sit down in good faith to try to get something done and people have different perceptions of the world and one side may ultimately end up right and one side probably ends up wrong, but there’s a lot of respect on both side of the table. Wes is here. He is a Patriot for this year. Hopefully he’ll be a Patriot beyond.”
Have you ruled out using the franchise tag on Wes Welker next year because the number is too big?
“Tony Massarotti we haven’t…seriously we are not done filling out the roster for this year. We are definitely not thinking about how we are allocating dollars beyond this year especially like that. I understand why you are asking the question, but that decision and probably a thousands others we’ll get made when this season ends.”
Do you wish that you got to Wes Welker earlier to lock up a long term contract like you did with Rob Gronkowski and Jerod Mayo?
“I don’t think you can have regrets leading to anything. Football is so different from the other pro sports because you go into camp this year it’s now 90 players on a roster 53 were on the roster plus practice squad guys and your IR guys at the end of last year. It’s a huge number of moving parts and chess pieces. What you try to do each offseason is to look at all of them and make the best decision and sometimes you make good decisions. Sometimes you make bad decisions. Sometimes you make decisions that fall in the middle. The worst thing you can do is look back and regret things. I think what you try to do is look back and try to learn and figure out how you can get better and were always trying to do that. We self scout ourselves on a regular basis and you try to figure out what you learned and you also try to look at what other teams in the league are doing and see what appears to be successful and what works the majority of the time and what doesn’t. But you are not going to be perfect and if you hold yourself to that standard you are not going to feel good about, so we don’t have regrets and I can tell you that I think both sides related to Wes Welker tried to get something done and it was just one of those situations where it wasn’t able to happen, but I do think there is a lot of respect on both sides of the table.”
Tom Brady said he wants to play another five years until he is 40. Are you as an organization going on that premise?
“First of all anything Tom Brady says I am sure he is able to back up. I think like we just talked about Tom Brady is under contract for at least a couple of more seasons. I start to lose tracks of things and he’s our quarterback. I think Tom Brady was arguably as good as there was in the game last year. He hasn’t shown any signs of at least to my knowledge not wanting to play or his skills diminishing.”