PEABODY, Mass. -- While a news story is now posted on ESPNBoston.com about Wes Welker backtracking on his remarks about contract negotiations "getting worse" (link here), the following is Welker's question-and-answer session with reporters Saturday at the Old Spice Wes Welker Football Clinic, presented by the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern New England:
Nice day for camp?
"Beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. Having a lot of fun with these kids. They’ve yet to catch a ball on me today, I’m playing some pretty good defensive back. Very encouraged by my skills out there."
You really get into this too…
"Yeah, it’s fun, man. It’s enjoyable, it’s fun to see kids out here playing, wanting to learn, and wanting to have a good time, and I’m having good time with them. I’m a kid myself out here, really. Pretty much."
What number camp is this for you?
"This is the fourth one we’ve done here. It’s been a lot of fun, we’ve grown so much. It’s been a blast and I’ve really enjoyed it."
What do you try to stress to the kids?
"The main thing is to have fun and enjoy it and do all those things. That’s one of the key things, and the other thing is just your attitude and what you bring to the field and if something goes bad, getting up and getting it right the next play. Really just trying to encourage them and all those things that kids should be doing."
What a difference a year makes.
"Yeah for sure. It’s nice to be out here and get some football drills in and be able to coach these kids up a little bit."
Practicing DB so Edelman doesn’t get a leg up on you?
"Yeah exactly. It's kind of fun, I think it’s fun for the kids to go against me and run routes and different things like that. I kind of enjoy it."
Thoughts on coming back for one year as a Patriot?
“I’m excited to be back. I’m excited to be a Patriot. Excited to be out there on the field [for] the OTAs and minicamps with my teammates. Looking forward to the 2012 season, and just going out there and getting better.”
But you’re frustrated with your contract talks?
“I’m not frustrated whatsoever. I know the words that came out maybe seemed that way. But I’m not frustrated at all. I’m making five times more than I did last year. There’s no frustration here.”
What went into the timing of signing the tender this week?
“I think OTAs coming up, and really wanting to get out there and get better and get out there with my teammates. And really just get ready for the 2012 season."
Was it a hard decision?
“Not for me. I don’t think so. I’m fully content with everything and content to get out there and help my team win ballgames.”
A year ago you stood here and said you get paid to play a kid’s game, and you get paid more than you ever dreamed of making. Is that how you still look at it?
“For sure. I enjoy playing. I enjoy being out there. I enjoy being a Patriot. All those things going together, and we get paid to do it. And get paid handsomely. I’m excited about that.”
Are you disappointed that you haven’t gotten a long-term deal yet?
“I mean, you go back and forth on it. But no, I’m totally content with where we’re at now. I’m looking forward to moving forward and getting ready for the 2012 season.”
Maybe you wish it went a little smoother?
“No, it is what it is. I just enjoy playing ball. Enjoy being out there, enjoy playing the game. That’s never going to change. I think you can get caught up in it and react silly sometimes, but you know what? We’re getting to play a game that we love and there’s no need to get into everything else about it.”
There are people who work hard and deserve more because they accomplish more. Do you feel that same way?
“It’s all relative. My outlook on it is you just go out there and play the game that I love to play, play as hard as I can, and let everything else take care of itself. That needs to be my outlook. Knowing I’m playing on a great team and in some way trying to contribute to that team.”
Can you expand on your “leap of faith” comment after you signed the tender?
“I’m going out there and wanting to help the team win. Probably not the wisest choice of words, but sometimes you react on emotion every once in a while, and it gets the best of you. But I’m just excited to be on the team, excited to go out there and help my team win in 2012.”
Does your love of the game hurt you? Is it tough to take the business side?
“Maybe. I don’t know. I’m not too worried about it. I love playing. I think that’s something I need to put in perspective more, and not so much the business side of it. Just enjoy playing and enjoy going out there with my teammates and playing the game that I love. That’s the key thing I can do and the rest of it will take care of itself.”
Are you anticipating a competitive camp with the wide receiver moves the team has made?
"Yeah, absolutely. We’ve got some great receivers coming in. It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of competitive atmosphere and guys that have been here and can help win a lot of ball games. I’m looking forward to working with everybody."
Can you keep playing at this same performance for 3, 4, or 5 more years?
"I think so. I know my history and stats are against me, but they’ve been that way my whole career, I’m not too worried about that. I just continue to work hard and train hard and do the things I’ve done to get myself here and continue to do more of it. Hopefully play at a high level for a long time."
What’s been the biggest surprise of the contractual process?
"I don’t know. I’m not too surprised by really anything. I’m just fortunate to be out there and fortunate to get ready for the 2012 season and try to be an integral part of it."
Surprised how negotiations have gone based on how team has handled high-profile negotiations in the past?
"It’s pretty consistent. You learn from it and at the same time you just appreciate being able to go out there and play the game and appreciate that you got an opportunity to win a lot of ballgames and I look forward to that."
Still planning on showing up for the starts of OTAs on Monday?
"Yes. Yeah I plan on being out there and working with the guys and getting better."
Does it ever cross your mind that this could be your last season as a Patriot?
"No. I don’t foresee that happening. I just take it a day at a time and try to get ready and better for this year."
Why do you feel like you still need to earn the deal?
"You earn it every day. That’s how you become great is to go out here and earn it every single day. The way you lift and train and the way you carry yourself and the way you go out there and play. It’s just something that you make a habit and you do on a consistent basis."
Are you OK with the fact that talks have – as you put it – gotten worse?
"That was probably a bad choice of words, saying they’ve gotten worse. They’ve pretty much – they’ve stayed the same. I’m franchised for the year and I’m completely happy with that. I’m completely OK with it and I look forward to contributing to the team in 2012."
Do you anticipate talking about a long-term extension throughout the 2012 season?
"I have no idea, I’m just trying to concentrate now on what I can control and that’s going out there and playing some really good football."
Have you talked recently with the team about a new deal?
"I’ll keep that between them and the Patriots and whatever they do. For me, just kind of stay out of it as much as I can and just focus on what I can do to help the team win."
Have you talked with either Bill Belichick or Robert Kraft about the situation?
"Not really. I’ve got people that I pay to handle all that stuff. And I try to stay out of it as much as possible and just try to focus on what I can do to help the team and not get caught up in the business side of it."
Why did you describe the talks as worse if they actually remain the same?
"I say the same because it’s a franchise tender. It was a bad choice of words because it's still one year, nine and a half [million dollars]. It’s the same. It’s the same contract."
Last year at this time, you were able to put in a full conditioning workout (after the knee injury). Everything going well this year?
“I’m feeling great. Body is recovered, it’s a long season, fast season. Body is feeling great. I think that’s the other part of being able to get out there. Body is feeling good, going out there and competing and helping the team get better.”
Do you feel like you are getting the band back together from 2007, with Jabar Gaffney, Donte’ Stallworth, and Josh McDaniels returning?
“Yeah, it is. It’s really cool, and I have a great relationship with all those guys. We’ve added some other guys into the mix as well. I’m excited to work with everybody and get everybody on the same page. We all work together out there. Everybody getting open and everybody being an option all the time. It really just helps our team to become that much better and have that competitive atmosphere out there.”
Have you had a chance to work out with Tom Brady this offseason? Brazil, anywhere?
“Not really. We haven’t really had a chance to get together this offseason yet. That’s why these OTAs are important as well: to get on the same page as him and get that work in.”