It's the same song and dance that the New England Patriots seems to take with their players when regarding contract talks. Though many Patriots fans will try to defend and deny that such a thing occurs, they would need to reconsider their stance. When it comes down to it, the Patriots play hardball with their 'loyal' star players.
In 2003, former Patriot Lawyer Milloy wanted to renegotiate his contract to get paid a little bit more. Result: Patriots cut him a week before the start of the season. In 2009, Richard Seymour was in the last year of his contract with the Pats, and wanted to renegotiate a new deal. Result: He was traded to the Oakland Raiders just days before the Patriots' first game of the season. Even players who played out their rookie contracts like Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins were hard balled by Pats management, even after having Pro Bowl caliber years.
Now, we come to the most recent victim of all this: Wes Welker. Since coming to the Patriots in 2007, Welker has been the most consistant and dangerous weapon in Tom Brady's arsenal. In 4 out of 5 seasons he's been in New England, Wes Welker has caught more than 100 passes and gained over 1,000 yards each time. The only time he did not reach the 1,000 yard mark was in 2010, where he was coming from an offseason of rehabilitation due to an ACL/MCL injury. He's also coming off a 2011 campaign where he posted career highs in receiving yards (1,569), receiving yards per game (98.1), and receiving touchdowns (9). Also, 2011 was the last year of his most recent contract.
Now most football teams would give Welker the farm for his consistency, hard work and dedication to the team, as well as being a model citizen. But unfortunately, the Pats think otherwise of their most productive offensive weapon. While most players would complain about getting the franchise tag, Welker quietly signed his tender, a 1-year $9.5 million dollar, in hopes that the Patriots will be able to give him a reasonable contract extension. Instead, the Patriots awarded starting tight end Rob Gronkowski a 8-year $54 million dollar extension including an $8 million signing bonus. Then just recently they inked Aaron Hernandez to a 5-year, $37.5 million extension including a $12.5 million signing bonus.
Now with the season opener rapidly approaching, one can only imagine where Wes Welker's situation will turn next. If history holds up, Patriots fans should not be surprised if Welker gets traded to another team two days before the Patriots open up against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. After all, it's how the Patriots treat their players during contract negotiations.
-Ryan L. Fox
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