The agency that represented Wes Welker in his contract negotiations with the New England Patriots took issue early Tuesday with owner Robert Kraft's version of how the receiver ended up in Denver.
Kraft blamed Welker's reps -- David Dunn and Brian Murphy of Athletes First -- for the ex-Patriot's defection from New England, contending they misread the market for his client in a fiery interview with reporters at the NFL's annual meetings in Phoenix on Monday afternoon. Kraft said the deal Welker ended up signing with the Broncos was actually worth less (in guaranteed money) than what he was offering, but by the time the receiver gave New England a chance to beat the offer, the Patriots had moved on to Plan B -- Danny Amendola.
"Wes Welker, just to be very clear, was our first choice to be with the team," Kraft said. "When free agency came, and his agents kept on insisting on a very high number that was beyond our number, we had to go work alternatives."
The statement from Athletes First released to NFL.com contended that the Patriots made just one offer to Welker and that it was a "take it or leave it" proposition that left them no alternative but to go on the free-agent market and shop for a deal elsewhere.
"Specifically, both sides are clear that the Patriots made one offer to Wes Welker since the prior negotiations ended in July 2012," the statement read. "Both sides also agree that this two-year offer came just hours before the start of free agency despite discussions that began at the NFL combine. Moreover, this lone offer was presented as a 'take it or leave it offer.' When we asked if there was room for structural changes, we were told no. We made a counter offer for the same term and same maximum dollar amount as their offer and it was rejected. We inquired if any of the offer's components were negotiable and were told no. This refusal to actually negotiate made it easy to reject the Patriots offer. Nevertheless, when we received the Denver Broncos' offer, Wes personally talked to Mr. Kraft to give the Patriots the opportunity to match it. The Patriots rejected this opportunity and Wes signed with the Denver Broncos."
Agency: Offer to Welker was 'take it or leave it', no negotiation
ESPN Boston | Mar 20