Tom Brady will downplay it and talk team, but the signs increasingly indicate that the quarterback and his team will only regret more and more that Wes Welker was allowed to leave and sign with the Broncos this offseason.
Welker is fitting in well with his new squad, and especially Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. And no matter what Brady and Welker said after Welker’s deal with the Broncos was first done — with Brady especially emphasizing that he hadn’t restructured his contract just so Welker could stay — both players admit there was indeed disappointment involved.
“You know, after it happened, obviously we talked and everything like that,” Welker said of Brady in an interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Michael Silver. “He was upset about it, and part of me was a little upset about it, too. But things happen for a reason, and I’m excited about the opportunities here and the type of team we have and things that we can do.”
While Brady has said he was sad that Welker moved on to a different team, he has been careful not to put any blame on the Patriots for not keeping him. After seeing many other Patriots teammates not be brought back, Brady’s admitted disappointment did not include surprise that Welker would be allowed to leave.
Welker shared that perspective.
“It is [a bummer], but I think he understands it, and I understand it,” Welker said. “… It’s been going on for years and years. I’m not the first [Patriots] player that this happened to, and I definitely won’t be the last.”
As has happened with other Patriots, though, Welker is hoping he can make New England regret the move. While he said he isn’t consumed by getting back at the team that didn’t give him a free-agent payday after years of service, he acknowledged that he wouldn’t ignore the extra drive it has provided.
“Wherever you can pull any sort of motivation that you need to use to go out there and play the way you need to play, I say use it,” Welker said. “So whatever it is, then yeah, I’ll definitely pull from wherever I can.”
Welker also talked about his reasoning in coming to the Broncos, saying “feeling wanted” was “a good feeling,” and that getting himself onto a successful team was key.
“I mean, really, that was kind of by design,” Welker said of working with Manning. “There weren’t too many quarterbacks that I would’ve gone out there and played with.”
Brady himself even reached out to Manning and let him know what a good thing he had going. Manning said he got a text from Brady saying, “He’s one of my favorite players I ever played with, and you’re gonna really enjoy playing with him,” according to Silver.
The one part of playing with a new team that may stand out above the rest, though, is that Welker will get to show parts of himself that never got a workout with the Patriots — that Pro Bowl sense of humor, for instance. Silver played up the fact that Welker, who was famously benched after one memorable news conference where he made jokes about Rex Ryan and his fascination with feet, now has free reign in Denver.
“I feel like I can be myself a little more for sure,” Welker acknowledged, laughing when asked if he’d been told what to say and not say in interviews. “Here? No. … All they told me was, ‘Just be yourself.’”
That could prove dangerous for the Patriots, whether they were right to let him go or not.