Welker refused better dealNew England Patriots owner Robert Kraft delivered several messages Monday at the NFL meetings. He claimed his team’s contract offer to Wes Welker was better than what the receiver got in Denver. Kraft said Welker’s agent, David Dunn, “misrepresented” Welker’s market value.
PHOENIX (AP) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft delivered several messages Monday at the NFL meetings.
He claimed his team’s contract offer to Wes Welker was better than what the receiver got in Denver. Kraft said Welker’s agent, David Dunn, “misrepresented” Welker’s market value.
And Kraft made it clear who is boss in New England.
When asked about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being upset that Welker left after Brady reworked his own contract, Kraft said: “I don’t answer to Tom Brady. He’s an important member of the team and we chatted.”
“He did what he did to put us in the best position to build a team around him and win games,” Kraft added. “But he has never, as it has been reported that he, or people close to him, have made certain comments, but none of that is true. I’ve spoken with him directly. Whoever is creating that impression is mistaken.
“He has never put a demand” on the Patriots.
Welker got a two-year, $12 million deal with the Broncos. Kraft said Welker could have received $8 million in the first year of a two-year contract with New England worth $10 million overall, as opposed to $6 million he gets in Denver.
“And there is no guarantee that he plays the second year there,” Kraft added.
Dunn did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press for comment.
The Patriots paid the two-time All-Pro receiver $9.55 million under the franchise tag in 2012 after Welker felt he was being lowballed on a new deal and could not reach agreement on a long-term contract. He then had his fifth season with at least 111 catches, making 118 receptions for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns.
New England didn’t tag Welker again, balking at paying the game’s best slot receiver the required 20 percent raise for a second-time franchise player.
Now, he’s a Bronco, going from being Brady’s favorite target to catching passes from Peyton Manning. Not a bad neighborhood to move to.
But Kraft was adamant Monday that he wanted Welker to remain in New England.
“We usually don’t talk about contracts, but I’d like to clear up what I think is some misconception about the Wes situation,” Kraft said.
“Everyone in our organization wanted Wes Welker back. Anyone who doubts that, or thinks we weren’t serious, just doesn’t get it. I really wanted Wes to be with us through the rest of his career, but it takes two sides to do a deal.”
When he joined the Broncos last week, Welker refused to criticize the Patriots, although he made it clear he felt his time in New England had come to a close.
“I’d definitely like to thank New England for the six years there, all the trust and everything they put in me,” Welker said. “As free agency kind of went on, I kind of got the feeling that it was time to start looking for other opportunities. Denver, I felt, would be a great fit for me.”
Ravens, Falcons get 4 compensatory picks
PHOENIX — Win a Super Bowl, get rewarded in the draft.
That’s what happened to the Baltimore Ravens, who on Monday were awarded four compensatory picks in April’s draft.
The Atlanta Falcons also got four selections for free agents they lost in 2012.
San Francisco, which lost 34-31 to Baltimore for the NFL title, will get three picks, as will Tennessee.
Compensatory selections have been awarded since 1994 to teams losing more or better free agents than it acquires in the previous year. Baltimore lost Ben Grubbs, Jarret Johnson, Brandon McKinney, Haruki Nakamura, Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski, and signed Sean Considine and Corey Graham.
Atlanta lost Kelvin Hayden, Curtis Lofton, James Sanders and Eric Weems while it didn’t sign anyone in 2012.
The highest compensatory pick of the 32 awarded this year is Houston’s at No. 95 overall, followed by Kansas City at No. 96 and the Titans with the 97th spot.
The Texans saw star defensive end Mario Williams sign with Buffalo, while the Chiefs lost top cornerback Brandon Carr to Dallas, and the Titans had CB Cortland Finnegan go to St. Louis.
Collecting two picks apiece will be Houston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Kansas City, Miami and Seattle.
Green Bay, Indianapolis, the New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh each received one selection. The Colts’ compensatory slot will be the final pick, No. 254.
Since 1994, Baltimore has received the most compensatory choices, 37, followed by Green Bay with 30. Houston and Cleveland have gotten the least, six, but the Browns entered the league in 1999 and the Texans in 2002.
Goodell: No expanded playoffs for 2013
PHOENIX — The NFL won’t be adding playoff teams for 2013, and the champions of last season, the Baltimore Ravens, could open on the road because of a conflict with the Orioles.
As the owners meetings opened Monday, scheduling was a main topic.
Traditionally, the season has opened with the Super Bowl winners playing host on the Thursday night after Labor Day.
The Ravens won’t have that opportunity unless baseball’s Orioles, who share parking lots at Camden Yards with the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium, will move their night game Sept. 5 to the afternoon.
So far, there’s been no progress, and Sept. 4 is not an option because it’s the first night of Rosh Hashanah.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell twice has spoken with his MLB counterpart, Bud Selig, seeking a solution.
“Unfortunately, the only (other) option is to take the Ravens on the road,” Goodell said. “We think that is wrong for the Ravens’ fans. We would not want that to happen.
“We are working on parallel tracks for a couple more weeks. Clearly, we are getting to a point where we have to make that decision.”
Last year, the NFL moved the opener to a Wednesday night to avoid conflicting with President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention.
Goodell also said the playoffs will not expand this season, but it will be discussed for the future. Last December, Goodell spoke about adding two or four teams to the current 12-team format.
“The competition committee looked at some of the issues,” said Goodell, who added the league needs to discuss expanded playoffs with the players’ union, too.
“Now, we have a little bit of work to do before we can advance it. It clearly won’t be happening for this year if there was any doubt about that.”
—Said there will be no change to the $36 million salary cap reduction the Washington Redskins were hit with in 2012; $18 million last year and $18 this year. Redskins general manager Bruce Allen recently called the penalty “a travesty of fairness.”
—Admitted there was improved effort in the players’ performance at the Pro Bowl and there will be further discussions here on its future.
—Reiterated the league’s desire to place a franchise in Los Angeles. He even thought Philip Anschutz’s decision not to sell AEG, which has interest in building a stadium downtown, is “very positive.”
“We want to get back to Los Angeles, but we are going to look at every alternative we have to do that successfully,” he said.