- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Unable to reach a long-term contract with the Patriots this offseason after declaring he was taking a leap of faith by signing his $9.5 million franchise-tag tender, Welker was back on the practice field on Thursday, doing what he does best: catching passes from quarterback Tom Brady, then putting in extra time with him after the session.
Welker said it was great to be back and that there was no disappointment from not landing the long-term deal he desired.
"Everyone tried," Welker said after the practice. "I tried, they tried, and it just didn't work out. It's in the past, and we've moved on to this season, which we expect to be a good one."
This marks Welker's sixth season in New England. Over the previous five, no player in the NFL caught more passes, which put Welker in position to cash in as a free agent after the 2011 season.
When the Patriots assigned him the franchise tag, it essentially limited his options -- either play on a one-year, $9.5 million deal or negotiate a longer-term extension with the Patriots.
On Thursday, Welker seemed happy to put the business side of the game behind him.
"The contract, and everything else, is out of my mind," he said, adding that he didn't feel additional pressure to put together a big year so he could land an extension. "You got to prove it every year. There is no year where you don't need to prove it."
Welker added that he wasn't concerned about being put in the same position next offseason, potentially being assigned the franchise tag (which would be $11.4 million) instead of a long-term deal.
"Actually, that's a great situation," he said. "I'm not too worried about that."
New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker said the failure to reach a long-term contract with the team has been removed from his mindset, and his focus now is on playing well and helping the Pats win games