Patriots owner Robert Kraft is in Atlanta today for some NFL spring meetings, and spoke with NFL Network about Wes Welker and the receiver's contract status.
"Well, we'd like to see him be a Patriot for life, but it takes two sides," Kraft said. "We're just happy he’s back in the system. He’s a wonderful young man, and a special guy. I think both sides would like to do a deal, but it requires intelligence and putting our team first."
Kraft has said on several occasions that he'd like Welker to be a "Patriot for life," and expressed his fondness for the receiver. It also is not a surprise to hear him say New England will put the team first when it comes to a contract.
Welker has shown his willingness to put the team first throughout his time with the Patriots, most recently in his signing of his franchise tender without a long-term deal on the horizon, saying he loves the game and his teammates and that's why he signed last week. He is with the team this week as it begins on-field organized team activities.
But he's wavered when it comes to taking a stand, saying on ESPN a few weeks ago that he felt as though he deserved a long-term deal and might not sign his tender in time to take part in the June mini-camp, and then last week said to the Boston Herald that contract negotiations had "gotten worse" when his agents were in Foxborough trying to hammer out a deal with Patriots' brass.
At his football camp on Saturday, Welker backpedaled from those statements, saying it was a bad choice of words to characterize things as worse. The Globe reported that Welker's public statements did not go over well with the team.
Asked about the Patriots being disappointed, Kraft said, "Anyone can say whatever they want. He’s done a great job for us, we’re always trying to do whatever we can do to put our team in the best position to win, that means balancing a lot of things, understanding what the cap is, what the cap growth is, how things fit in the system and we try to have values for every position and every player."
In other words, Welker is just the latest high-profile Patriots player who finds himself in this position when it comes to contract talks.