- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made it clear Monday morning that he wants wide receiver Wes Welker back in New England next season, but echoed a familiar refrain that personnel decisions are not something he has any input on.
"I think those business parts of the game are -- those usually take care of themselves," he said during his weekly interview with the "Dennis & Callahan Show" on Boston sports radio WEEI (click HERE to listen). "Certainly I'm not involved in any of those."
Brady has made similar comments in the past when asked about Welker.
Welker, who received the franchise tag and a $9.5 million salary for the 2012 season, is set to become a free agent in 2013 unless the Patriots sign him to a long-term deal or tag him for a second straight season. He finished with a team-high 118 catches and 1,354 yards to go along with six touchdowns.
The 31-year-old Welker had a team-high eight catches for 117 yards in Sunday’s 28-13 AFC Championship Game loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but he also had a drop on a key third down in the second half.
"Everybody knows how I feel about Wes, our whole team feels that way about Wes," Brady said. "He's just one of the best players I've played with and played against. He's just a phenomenal player, and he's been the heart and soul of what our team is all about. He's been so selfless and the way that he carrires himself and commits himself to help our team win, it's second to none. But like I said, those aren't my decisions."
The Patriots and Welker were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term contract last offseason, eventually settling on the franchise tag. When he eventually signed his franchise tender in May, he tweeted that he was taking a “#leapoffaith” that the team would do right by him.
When asked repeatedly after Sunday’s game whether he thought he would be back in New England, Welker said he was “not worried about that right now.”
The team has the option to use the franchise tag on Welker again this offseason, which would result in an escalated salary of $11.4 million for the 2013 season.
Welker became the first player in NFL history with five 110 catch seasons, and has averaged 112 receptions during his six seasons as a Patriot.