New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is not just an owner, he is a fan but he also understands that the game is a business, especially his organization. As Patriots fans are still healing wounds over the loss of receiver Wes Welker, who decided to sign with the Denver Broncos, Kraft told ESPN Boston on Monday that he is sad about Welker leaving and places blame on Welker's agents.
Kraft said he doesn't usually talk contracts but wanted to clear a few things up regarding Welker. He told reporters at the NFL annual meeting:
"Everyone in our organization wanted Wes Welker back. 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."
It was Kraft's public statement that he wanted Welker to retire a New England Patriot that comforted fans at the time, but it was also that same statement that confused fans when Welker decided to leave. Some felt it was personal, as some tension, evolved between Welker and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. But Kraft feels it was Welker's agents who "misrepresented, in their mind, what his market value was". The Patriots owner states Welker would've actually gotten more money if he stayed in New England than the deal he took with the Broncos.
"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 incentive."
Kraft goes on to say that the money Welker is getting from Denver will count $4 million against the cap this coming year and $8 million the second which doesn't guarantee that Welker even plays a second year in Denver.
Overall, Kraft is "really sad" to see Welker go, as well as the fans. It will be tough shoes to fill and already receiver Danny Amendola, who was signed after Welker left for Denver, is feeling the pressure. But the Patriots are a team and has never been about one player. Welker will definitely be missed but the team usually always finds a way to evolve.