Wes Welker and the Patriots had a bit of a messy divorce this past offseason when Welker chose to sign with the Denver Broncos for two years and $12 million instead of re-upping with New England for two years and $10 million (plus incentives).
Turns out, Welker left the Patriots for more than monetary reasons.
Welker and three Broncos teammates — Peyton Manning, Eric Decker, and Demaryius Thomas — are featured on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, and Welker said one of the reasons he left New England was because Bill Belichick “got on him in a way he never had before, admonishing him in front of the team,” wrote SI’s Chris Ballard.
“It was just kind of hard,” Welker said. “One of those deals where you have to endure him, put up with him . . . But he does it to everybody, it’s the way he is.”
Welker, splashed across the cover in a spread-eagle pose, is now free to be himself in Denver, but he is still a bit paranoid about violating Belichick’s media rules.
“When I’m answering questions from the Denver media, I’m not worried about what the Broncos’ people are going to think,” Welker said. “I’m worried about what Belichick will think. Isn’t that crazy?”
Welker said he considered signing with only two teams — Denver and New England — and that he’s going to miss Tom Brady, whom he grew to appreciate over his six seasons with the Patriots, calling him his big brother and best friend.
But when Welker first arrived in New England in 2007?
“He was very intense, wanted it done a certain way and was like, ‘You can’t do it a different way,’ ” Welker said.
Welker said he is working hard to learn a new offense in Denver.
“In New England, if the middle of the field was closed, I’d run a seam route,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been doing for six years now, so I have to teach my brain to do it the way [Manning is] expecting me to do it. At the end of the day you run it the way he wants it, or he won’t throw it to you.”
Ballard writes, “These days, Welker is conflicted about his time with the Patriots. He loves Boston’s hardcore fans and has great respect for many of his old teammates. But the vibe changed at the end, and Welker’s relationship with Belichick deteriorated.”
Ben Volin can be reached at email@example.com.