FOXBORO -- Tuesday afternoon, Deion Branch was asked whether he has any kind of empathy for franchised teammate Wes Welker. Branch nodded understanding before the question was even punctuated.
"We give a little of both: space and support," he said of Welker, who's yet to show up for Patriots workouts. "At the same time, we all know it's a business -- Wes knows that, the organization knows that and we have to let them two handle that. They'll hash it out."
Branch paused for a moment before continuing. "Overall, it's our friend. Regardless of the business of it. We always call and check up on him."
Welker wants a long-term deal and the money that goes with it. Reportedly, he may skip minicamp for the sake of leverage. But the receiver's absence won't be derided by those who are present. One would be hard-pressed to find an NFL locker room rooting against a teammate getting paid.
Branch certainly gets it.
Dissatisfaction with New England's 2006 extension offer prompted how own holdout that stretched from mandatory workouts, through training camp, and into the preseason. After an ugly back-and-forth with the Patriots, Branch was traded to Seattle in September of that year.
Believe it or not, the experience may be why some of his comments regarding Welker sound impersonal. Branch said each man's business is his own; it's the empathy that provides clarity, and inspires distance as well as respect.
"I've given him no advice. Wes has been in the game a long time, I've been in a long time. I'm just there for support. Advice comes from his representatives and that's good enough," he laughed. "I'm not his agent."