Former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker joined his new team in Denver Thursday, participating in a press conference at Sports Authority Field at Mile High after signing a two-year deal with the Broncos.
“He brings great experience playing in the playoffs,” John Elway, the Broncos’ executive vice president of football operations, said to open the session. “There are just so many things that makes this right for us… he’s a tremendous fit for us.”
Welker was enthusiastic about joining Peyton Manning in Denver.
“Definitely excited about the opportunity,” Welker said. “Definitely like to thank New England for the six years there and all the the trust and everything they put in me and the opportunities I got but I’m looking forward to being a Denver Bronco and really trying to help this team win and getting to play with Peyton [Manning] and a good group of receivers, and a good offense, and definitely looking forward to it.”
Welker spoke about leaving New England, where he was long a fan favorite.
“As free agency went on, you kind of got the feeling that, start looking for other opportunities,” Welker said. “Denver I felt would be a great fit for me with their offense and how they run things, and everything else, so it worked out.”
Welker was asked if he thought there was a good chance he would stay with the Patriots after Tom Brady restructured his contract, thus creating more cap space to re-sign the slot receiver.
“You never know with those deals,” Welker said. “You just try not to think about it too much, you just try to focus on you, and for me it’s just working out and getting ready for the next year and not really trying to worry about all that.”
Welker was asked what made the Broncos so attractive to him.
“I think they have a great quarterback, they have a great team,” Welker said. “They went 14-2 last year [13-3 actually]. They’re a great team, and I want to win. I felt like it was a good opportunity for me.”
He was asked how difficult it was to part ways with Brady.
“Yeah, that was definitely probably the hardest part was leaving Tom,” Welker said. “He’s a great competitor, a great player, a great friend, across the board, so I wish the best to him.”
“For me, it was really probably two teams I was very interested in playing for,” Welker added. “This was definitely one of them. I was just excited about the opportunity, and really looking forward to it.”
Welker said he tried to sell Elway on his services.
“I was probably the one pitching to him,” Welker said. “Trying to make this happen and everything else. Finally, we were able to get together and get a deal done.
“I want to win. That above everything, and we figure out the money part, and all that stuff later, and winning was a big thing for me.”
Welker was asked if he felt underappreciated or undervalued in New England after six record-setting seasons with the Patriots.
“I think that’s all relative,” Welker said. “I’m a Denver Bronco now, and I’m excited about it and I’m really not looking in the past on it, just looking forward.”
Welker was asked about the differences between playoff football and regular-season football, something Elway alluded to in his opening remarks.
“It’s a completely different ballgame,” Welker said. “It’s a completely different season, and you’re out there, the hits are a little harder, the throws are a little tighter, and everybody’s laying it on the line every single week and you got to make sure you’re up for that challenge and ready to go.”
Welker said he’s texted Manning a few times and he’s excited to start working with the Hall of Fame-bound quarterback.
Welker was asked if he’s heard from Bill Belichick since deciding to leave the Patriots.
“No, I mean, we talked and stuff through the process,” Welker said. “We wish each other the best and everything else and everything was on good terms.”
Welker was asked again by a New England-based reporter if any lingering friction between him and the Patriots coach led to his exit.
“I feel like everything was good,” Welker said. “I think any time you’re a competitor, you’re going to clash at times but overall we’ve always had a great relationship and everything’s on good terms and I have no ill feelings or anything else. I thank the fans there and everything else and I look forward to bringing my same style of play here to Denver and trying to help this team win.”