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Monday, January 21, 2013
Tom Brady wants Wes Welker back

By Field Yates
Special to ESPNBoston.com

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made it clear Monday morning that he wants impending free agent Wes Welker back in New England next season, but he said again that he does not have input on personnel decisions.

"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. "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 with six touchdowns.

Welker, 31, 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 carries himself and commits himself to help our team win, it's second-to-none. But like I said, those aren't my decisions."

In his final news conference of the season Monday morning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick deflected any questions about potential free agents, a group that also includes key cornerback Aqib Talib.

"We will not make any decisions on any players into the future now. You just can't do it," Belichick said. "There are too many factors, too many unknown things. All the things I said about Aqib, I meant and I still feel that way. Nothing has changed, but I can't put into place an entire plan for the team at this point in time. There's just not enough information; it's too early.

"And again as I said, I don't think you can, as much as you want to just go case by case and list each guy and what his deal is, I think that there is some of that, no question -- but at the same time, when you're trying to put together a team, you've got to look at the entire team before you just say, 'OK well, we want to try to keep this guy. Well, we don't want to keep this guy' or 'We want to try to get somebody else,' or whatever. You've got to look at the entire context of the team and not just take it one guy, piece by piece. I don't think that's the way you put together an entire football team. You've got to see the big picture and how it all fits together and there are a lot of factors that go into that. That's why it takes some time."

Talib, whose arrival at the trade deadline helped fuel the Patriots' run to the AFC title game, said he enjoyed his time in New England but acknowledged he doesn't know if hell be back.

Asked if it was his preference to return to the team, the 26-year-old replied, "That's the business side of the business. I definitely enjoyed being a Patriot."

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.

Field Yates is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com.