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Wes Welker says nothing personal about departure from Patriots

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Wes Welker rode the Patriots Way right out of New England. (USATSI)
Wes Welker said there's nothing personal about his departure from New England. (USATSI)

It's hard to look at the breakdown in negotiations between Wes Welker and the Patriots -- which ultimately led him to leave New England and join up with the Broncos -- and not see things as somewhat "personal."

Robert Kraft's impassioned plea on the talks at the owners' meetings this year only gave more credence to that notion. But Welker dispelled the idea (or did his best to anyway) on Wednesday during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show.

"It's just part of the business and part of how things go," Welker said. "I had a lot of great years with Tom [Brady] there in New England. And now it's another chapter. You don't forget everything, but you kind of move on and get ready for the next season."

There's all kinds of he-said, he-said layers to Welker's departure. Kraft said the Pats made the wideout a better offer than Denver did. Welker's agents said the Pats gave the wideout a "take it or leave it" offer. (Bill Belichick, on the other hand, just shrugged and lamented annual changes to the roster.)

Brady also reworked his contract during this offseason, with many folks believing that such a restructuring created enough room for the Pats to bring back his favorite target. Welker said he doesn't think Brady "makes decisions like that."

"I don't think Tom makes decisions like that. Actually, I know he doesn't," Welker said. "He wants what's best for the team. And he knows his coach does that. It just didn't work out. And that's kind of the way it goes. I'm excited about the new opportunities in Denver."

The reality is things did get personal. Welker was a perfect encapsulation of the Patriot Way, and the team didn't reward him for working hard at below-market value. But that's also part of the Patriot Way -- not overpaying for past performance or assuming that past performance absolutely equates to future performance.

That doesn't mean everyone had to be happy about it. Welker said that he and Brady were both "a little bit disappointed" to be parting ways.

"Obviously, we're both a little bit disappointed about not being able to play together," Welker said. "But he was happy for me. He's a stand-up, just a good guy. Obviously, it was tough, but that's the way it goes."

You probably won't hear Welker bad mouth the Pats, ever. (Patrick even said, "You're not going to give me anything, are you?" during the interview, with Welker laughing because he wouldn't.) And leading up to the Broncos-Patriots game in Foxboro sometime in 2013, Welker will fire out platitudes about returning to New England and his great time with the Pats, etc.

Perhaps if the Broncos win, we'll get a look into the personal nature of the chip on Welker's shoulder. But, for now, any personal vendetta resulting from the contract negotiations is going to be buried below generic media speak from two sides who approach football about as professionally as possible.

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