- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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The “Patriots Way” is a popular saying in Foxborough. It means several things, such as no distractions, establishing a strong football culture, and playing consistent and smart football.
The Patriots, more than any NFL franchise, are machine-like in their approach. New England is a team which rarely beats itself. That explains why the Patriots have an NFL-high five Super Bowl appearances since 2001.
But unfortunately for Patriots’ players, New England’s approach to doing things spills into the front office. The Patriots are emotionless with roster decisions and not afraid to swiftly cut bait. The most recent example was New England cutting starting defensive tackle Kyle Love this week soon after learning he has diabetes. Love obviously was not happy with the decision and vented after being claimed on waivers by the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.
That leads into quarterback Tom Brady’s comments Thursday that he wasn’t surprised New England let go of leading receiver Wes Welker. The Patriots low-balled Welker this offseason, and he eventually signed with the rival Denver Broncos. New England responded by signing Danny Amendola to a five-year, $31 million contract.
"That's what happens. This is a, like I said, it's a very tough, competitive business, and nobody appreciated Wes more than I did and what he was able to accomplish for our team,” Brady told WEEI radio station in Boston. “He's moved on; he's in a good situation with another great team and a great quarterback. We always kind of kept in touch, we always will. He's one of my best friends."
Brady understands all that goes on around him in New England. However, he is the one player immune to the “Patriot Way.”
New England never thought of letting go of Brady or playing hardball in contract negotiations, like it did with other stars like Welker. The Patriots never considered trading Brady to another team before he got too old, like it did with Randy Moss and Richard Seymour. Brady is so valuable that New England’s usual way of doing business doesn't apply. The Patriots recently worked out a three-year extension that will keep Brady in New England until he’s 40, which is unheard of with the Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick.
You would think a player as productive as Welker, who had five 100-catch seasons in New England and 118 receptions in 2012, would be treated better. But the Patriots proved again that they believe every player is easily replaceable with the exception of Brady.
It’s hard to argue with New England’s results the past dozen years. But you wonder if the Patriots’ harsh way of doing business will eventually catch up to them. Will it be easy to run the team the same once Brady is no longer the quarterback?
Brady has seen many good players come and go in New England, but rest assured the Welker decision impacted him. The two are very good friends and had tremendous chemistry together on the field. However, Brady says his focus is on being the best player he can be in 2013.
"Of course I have feelings, but those feelings are very personal to me," Brady explained. "I used to get caught up in anger and disappointment, but I don't make the decisions. These things aren't up to me. At some point you've got to realize the things that are out of your control, you've just got to let go, focus on my job and what I need to do. The game moves on, the team moves on, there's only so long you can dwell on the past, and at some point you've got to move forward.”