The Patriots rarely have been accused of offering too much information.
But owner Robert Kraft just went into an eye-opening amount of detail on the team’s negotiations with wide receiver Wes Welker, emphasizing that keeping Welker was the team’s first choice before the wide receiver went to Denver.
“You know, everyone in our organization wanted Wes Welker back,” Kraft said, via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “Anyone who doubts that, or thinks we weren’t serious, just doesn’t get it. I’ve owned the team 19 years and I’ve known in the end we have to have certain limits and restraints. Like I’ve said many times, I really wanted Wes to be with us through the rest of his career, but it takes two sides to do a deal. . . .
“In Wes’ case, we were willing to go what we considered above his market value. For a couple years, we tried to get a long-term deal done with him. We couldn’t do a deal and we wound up franchising him at a very high number [$9.5 million]. In retrospect, I wish we could have wrapped that into an arrangement where it was part of a longer-term deal.
“But I really believe in this case, his agents misrepresented, in their mind, what his market value was. When you come right down to the bottom line, he accepted a deal in Denver which is less money than what we offered him. In fact, he has a one-year deal in Denver for $6 million. Our last offer, before we would have even gone up and before we thought we were going into free agency, was a $10 million offer with incentives that would have earned him another $6 million if he performed the way he had the previous two years. But in Denver, he’s going to count $4 million against the cap this coming year and $8 million the second year. There is no guarantee that he plays the second year there. He will get $6 million the first year. Our deal, he would have gotten $8 million the first year – our last offer to him.
“So in fact, our offer was better than what in fact he got from Denver. I’m just really sad about that. Everyone in our organization, including our head coach – I sat in a number of meetings, we discussed this very carefully. Just to clear up any misconception, we wanted Wes back.”
Kraft also referred to Danny Amendola as “our second alternative,” which should make Amendola feel very welcome in New England.
But the level of detail he went into on the Welker deal shows how emotional the discussion became, and perhaps how close he came to crossing that line where football becomes personal.