Former Patriots receiver Wes Welker feels “like I can be myself a little more” with the Broncos, and acknowledged what had long been assumed: That Tom Brady was not happy when his good friend and favorite on-field target was allowed to leave New England.
Welker made the comments to Yahoo! Sports for a story that was posted Monday.
Though Brady has said publicly that he has no say over Patriots personnel decisions and that Welker leaving was just part of the business, Welker said Brady was bothered that New England decided to move on, especially after the quarterback had restructured his contract to free up money under the salary cap.
“You know, after it happened, obviously we talked and everything like that,” Welker said. “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.”
Welker said of splitting off from Brady, “It is [a bummer], but I think he understands it, and I understand it . . . I’m not the first player that this has happened to, and I definitely won’t be the last.”
Welker, 32, signed a two-year, $12 million contract with Denver in March after the Patriots made what was regarded as a lukewarm attempt to keep the franchise’s receptions leader.
At the NFL meetings, shortly after Welker signed, Patriots owner Robert Kraft gave a surprising news conference detailing the talks between the organization and Welker’s camp. Kraft insisted that New England’s final offer was better than what Welker ultimately agreed to with the Broncos.
Welker disputed Kraft’s account, naturally, but said it felt good to feel wanted by the Broncos, and that it was by design that he ended up in Denver, so he could play with Peyton Manning. Manning wanted Welker aboard as well, and sent him a couple of texts in the days leading up to free agency.
Welker is known for his sense of humor and love of pranks — he has already teamed with Manning to pull one off against fellow receiver Eric Decker. Patriots coach Bill Belichick benched Welker for one series after Welker poked fun at Jets coach Rex Ryan during a media session in the 2010 postseason.
Welker was told by the Broncos to simply be himself when it comes to interviews. “I feel like I can be myself a little more [in Denver], for sure,” Welker said.
Enigmatic linebacker Brandon Spikes reported to Gillette Stadium Monday in advance of mandatory minicamp, according to a league source.
Spikes did not take part in the offseason workout program or organized team activities, both of which are voluntary by rule. Spikes was the only Patriot to sit out OTAs. He has been working out at Bommarito Performance in North Miami Beach, a facility favored by many NFL players.
But the three-day minicamp is contractually obligated, and the Patriots could have fined Spikes for missing workouts.
The former second-round pick is heading into the fourth and final year of his rookie contract.
The Patriots released quarterback Mike Kafka and defensive lineman Dewayne Cherrington. Kafka, a fourth-round pick of the Eagles in 2011, was signed Jan. 21 after spending the 2012 season out of football. Cherrington, an undrafted rookie from Mississippi State, was signed May 3.