|Welker's cool with Gronk's new deal. (Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com)|
You could forgive Wes Welker if he wasn't entirely thrilled when his Patriots teammate Rob Gronkowski signed a monster six-year, $54 million deal last week. After all, Welker's in camp on a one-year, $9.5 million franchise tender and isn't exactly being guaranteed a lot of long-term security by the Patriots.
But speaking on Tuesday, Welker was enthusiastic about the Pats rewarding Gronk, calling the contract "a great deal."
"I thought it was a great deal, you know, having a guy like that around here for a long time," Welker said, per our Patriots Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard. "Having him around for a while is a great deal for us and the organization."
Gronk had a huge year in 2011 (his second in the league), catching 90 passes for 1,327 yards and a league-leading 17 touchdowns. So, yeah, getting him the big money is a smart thing. But Welker's got an argument if he wants to make one -- he's averaged 111 catches and 1,221 yards in his five years with the Pats.
But Welker, who reportedly caused some unrest within the Pats organization when he complained about negotiations recently, is going to keep playing the role of good soldier and avoiding anything resembling expectations when it comes to the July 16 deadline to give franchise-tag players a long-term deal.
"I expect for me to go out there and do my job to the best of my ability," Welker said, via Bedard. "I'm not worried about that all. Right now, I'm here and I'm happy. I'm just here to help our team win here in 2012."
There's no telling whether or not the Pats will reward Welker before July 16. I'd guess they won't give him all the money he wants, but he may ultimately be willing to take less in order to lock up more guaranteed money down the road, without risking serious injury in 2012.
It won't be the kind of money that Gronk picked up last week, but that's to be expected because of age and, to a degree, positional scarcity as it were.
Still, if it can set Welker up to compete without worrying about his paycheck, it could go even further towards making him happy. In the meantime, he's at least taking the right approach with his public comments about Gronk's contract.
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