When NFL teams are deciding which players get long-term contract extensions, a 23-year-old All-Pro is going to be a higher priority than a 31-year-old All-Pro. Wes Welker is smart enough to understand that.
So when Welker was asked whether it upsets him that the Patriots signed Rob Gronkowski to a new deal but haven’t given Welker the contract he wants, he said he completely understands.
“No, not at all,” Welker said, via the Providence Journal. “I’m always pulling for the players, especially a guy like Gronk, who does such a great job for us and works hard. He deserves every bit of that contract.”
The deal could keep Gronkowski in New England for as many as eight more seasons, and Welker said he thinks the Patriots were smart to lock Gronkowski down for the prime years of his career.
“I thought it was a great deal. You need a guy like that around here for a long time. He’s such a great player for us,” Welker said. “Having him around for a while is a great deal for us and our organization. I’m very happy for him.”
Welker, who has signed his franchise tender and has a guaranteed salary of $9.5 million this season, said he’s not overly concerned about getting a new deal done for himself. And Patriots coach Bill Belichick was his usual ebullient self when asked about getting a deal with Welker done before the July 16 NFL deadline for franchise players to sign long-term contracts.
“It is what it is,” Belichick said. “The rules are the rules. So whatever they are, we’ll comply with them.”
Thanks for clearing that up, coach.