If you're looking for a reason—one beyond money—that Wes Welker chose to sign with the Denver Broncos this offseason, look no further than his deteriorating relationship with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Welker, who has mostly taken the high road since leaving New England, opened up about the situation in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard for the magazine's NFL preview issue. As the two men grew more distant from one another in Welker's final season with the Patriots, the coach allegedly began berating him—in a way he never had previously.
"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.”
The Patriots franchise-tagged Welker before the 2012 season with the expectation of a long-term deal coming down the pike. But as negotiations stalled going into last summer, Welker began openly talking about how the two sides had reached an impasse.
Many took both New England's hesitance in signing Welker and his open comments as a sign of a rift. Though Welker would go on to record 118 receptions for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns—his fifth 100-catch season with the Patriots—it's obvious those theories carried some weight. Belichick is infamously closed off when it comes to the media and instructs his players to act the same.
Welker, 32, even told Ballard that despite leaving for the Broncos this offseason, Belichick still plays a major role in his dealings with the media.
"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?"
If you were an NFL player, would you want to play for Bill Belichick?
That being said, not all of Welker's time in New England was bad. He also spoke to Sports Illustrated about his relationship with quarterback Tom Brady. Let's just say the two weren't the fastest of pals to start.
“He was very intense, wanted it done a certain way and was like, You can’t do it a different way,” Welker said.
Welker would say he went on to appreciate Brady's intensity and perfectionism. The two also became close friends off the field, with Welker saying leaving Brady was the "hardest part" of him leaving the Patriots.
Nonetheless, he shouldn't see much of a downgrade at the position. Welker will go from catching passes from Brady—arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation—for the past six years to catching passes from Peyton Manning—arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation.
The Broncos play the Patriots Week 12 in New England. Suffice it to say, the handshake between Welker and Belichick might be a little briefer than initially expected.
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