Wes Welker opens up about emotional breakup with Patriots
Former NFL wide receiver Wes Welker had gone from undrafted and unheralded pass-catcher in his first few years in the league to a perennial Pro Bowler with the New England Patriots.
Naturally, Welker had hoped to remain with the Patriots when he hit free agency in the spring of 2013, but the Patriots were not interested. Welker ended up signing with the Denver Broncos.
Welker told WEEI that while he wanted to be in New England, he could sense fluctuations in camaraderie among the players and with the rest of the coaching staff and also noted how demanding Pats head coach Bill Belichick can be of the guys on the roster (via Henry McKenna of USA TODAY):
“I think there were some times where I didn’t really feel that at times for different reasons — the guys that we had in the locker room, the camaraderie that we had was better some years than others. We had all these different things and when you’re one of the highest paid players on the team you’re expected to deliver and like a highly paid player. There’s definitely pressure on that and all these different things is tough and it’s hard. Coach Belichick is hard on guys and tries to get the most out of him that he can.”
Welker issued these comments in relation to Tom Brady’s recent departure from New England, though the circumstances are a little different.
The two-time All-Pro was the best slot receiver in the NFL in 2011 and 2012, and he set a career-high with 174 targets in 2012. Yet, the Patriots let him walk, even though he was unquestionably a top receiving option. Brady’s departure is a bit different in that he is coming off a less-than-stellar year.
Still, the similarities stem from both players identifying so much with the franchise, two overlooked guys who made names for themselves in New England.