In his first public comments since tweeting he had signed his franchise tender, New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker told the Boston Herald that he did not accept the one-year, $9.5 million deal because he was optimistic a long-term deal was imminent. He said the opposite is true: that negotiations have "gotten worse."
"There have been talks, but nothing that's brightened anything at all," Welker said.
Welker told the Herald the latest offer the Patriots extended was less than the two-year, $16 million, fully guaranteed deal the wide receiver reportedly was offered last season.
These latest comments come just days after Welker told Boston sports radio station WEEI that he thought he and the Patriots were "on the same page" on a long-term deal and "trying to collectively come together and make something happen."
Welker has led the league in receptions in three of his five seasons in New England. He had career highs in yards receiving last season with 1,569 and touchdowns with nine.
When Welker signed the franchise tender Tuesday, he tweeted he had taken a "#leapoffaith" in doing so, adding he hoped "doing the right thing gets the right results."
The other option on the table for Welker was to not sign the tender and stay away from the upcoming organized team activities to send a message to the Patriots. Welker said his preferred route was to be with his team for OTAs, which he believes sends a different kind of message.
"If they see me out there at OTAs and minicamps and everything else, and I'm still out there winning and doing what I need to do to help the team win, you know what, the ball's in their court to make something happen," Welker told the Herald. "That's kind of my mindset, to go out and show them I deserve it."
Welker also said he was eager to join his teammates on the field.
"[Organized team activities] are about to start. The team's all getting together. You get all these months off and everything else. I don't know, you're just kind of bored," Welker said. "You want to be up on the field. You want to be up there competing and trying to get better. You kind of miss it. ... I think at the end of the day for me, if I go out there and keep playing great football like I have been for the past five years, eventually, it'll pay off."
Welker told ESPNBoston.com Radio last month he was leaning toward not attending the team's mandatory minicamp, a hard-line stance he ultimately changed his mind about.
"I think those techniques work better with other teams," Welker told the Herald. "I think the best thing you can do, as far as the Patriots, is be there and let them make the decision if they want to do something long-term or not."
If he and the Patriots do not agree on a long-term contract, Welker said he would be satisfied playing under the $9.5 million franchise tender.