Patriots

Wes Welker hints at why he believes Tom Brady left Patriots for Bucs

Wes Welker hints at why he believes Tom Brady left Patriots for Bucs

Two camps have emerged amid the reaction to Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots: Those who were shocked to see him go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and those who saw his exit coming.

You can put Wes Welker in the latter camp.

The current San Francisco 49ers wide receivers coach and former Patriots wideout admitted Wednesday he was "not necessarily" surprised by Brady joining the Bucs in free agency after 20 seasons in New England.

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"You kind of hate to see it just because he’s been there for so long," Welker told WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show." "It's going to be strange seeing him in a different uniform and all those things, but I wouldn’t say I was surprised."

Why not, you ask? Welker, who caught 672 passes from Brady over six seasons with the Patriots, sincerely believes the 42-year-old wanted a new challenge.

"I'm excited for him to see something else, to see something new and different things like that, as a friend," Welker said. "As a fan, you kind of hate to see it."

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When asked if he thought Brady was upset about not finishing his career as a Patriot, Welker reiterated his point.

"I think he’s just excited to play football. Tom just wants to play ball," Welker said. "He’s got some weapons down there in Tampa. 

" ... It’s another challenge for him in his mind, I'm sure, of proving people wrong. He doesn't have to be in New England to be great. And he's going to take on that challenge, and I guarantee you he's going to be full steam ahead with it."

Many believe Brady left the Patriots in part to prove he can find success without head coach Bill Belichick, who won six Super Bowls with the former sixth-round draft pick.

Welker clearly subscribes to that theory, which carries weight considering how well he knows his former QB.

Welker's 49ers reportedly were in the running to land Brady in free agency and have him replace his former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo. Welker insisted San Francisco is fully behind Jimmy G, though.

"I don’t think it was a very tough decision," Welker said, "I don't know personally; you'd have to ask (head coach) Kyle (Shanahan) and (general manager) John (Lynch) about what their thoughts were. But they, as do I, feel very strongly about Jimmy and what he brings to our team. Last year was the first year he played a whole season, so he’s only going to get better."

NFL rumors: Salary details of Cam Newton's Patriots contract revealed

NFL rumors: Salary details of Cam Newton's Patriots contract revealed

The New England Patriots aren't spending a whole lot of money to bring Cam Newton to Foxboro.

Reports surfaced Sunday night that the Patriots and the veteran quarterback had agreed to a one-year, incentive-laden contract worth up to $7.5 million. 

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Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported Wednesday the financial breakdown of Newton's contract with the Patriots, including the base salary, guaranteed money and incentive totals.

The Patriots didn't have much salary cap space before this move. In fact, they recently had the lowest amount of available cap space in the entire league. So, for them to be able to acquire Newton and not have to spend a ton of money or cap space is pretty extraordinary.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Newton's contract is that the Patriots could franchise tag the 31-year-old quarterback next offseason. It gives New England more options in the event Newton has a strong 2020 season.

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There's not a ton of risk with this move, and it could end up being one of the best roster additions of Bill Belichick's 20-year tenure in New England if Newton is able to stay healthy.

Newton is a former league MVP (2015) and has been one of the most exciting quarterbacks to watch throughout his nine-year career. The last time he played close to a full season was 2018, when the former No. 1 overall draft pick threw for 3,395 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Newton also ran for 488 yards and scored four rushing touchdowns in those 14 games.

If he produces similar or better statistics in 2020, the Patriots should have a strong chance to extend their playoff appearance streak to 12 seasons.

NFL rumors: Week 1 and Week 4 of 2020 preseason schedule to be eliminated

NFL rumors: Week 1 and Week 4 of 2020 preseason schedule to be eliminated

The NFL preseason could feature half as many games as we're accustomed to seeing.

ProFootballTalk reported Wednesday that Week 1 and Week 4 of the 2020 preseason will be eliminated.

Here's an explanation from PFT's Mike Florio:

The move was driven by two primary factors. First, teams who will be playing preseason games on the road won’t want to move that many people. Second, given that no teams had on-field practice sessions in the offseason, coaches would rather have the extra time to work with their teams, and that will happen if they don’t have to worry about two extra preseason games.

The NFLPA has yet to sign off on these moves, according to NFL Media's Mike Garafolo:

These cuts make a lot of sense as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the United States and the rest of the world. The pandemic has forced all offseason activities so far to be held virtually. Training camps are scheduled to begin July 28, and the league announced earlier this week that it's sticking to that date

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What would these preseason changes mean for the New England Patriots? It's not yet known if teams will just play their Week 2 and Week 3 preseason games, or if any opponents and/or dates will also be changed.

Here's the Patriots' original preseason schedule that was announced a few weeks ago:

  • Thursday, August 8 at Lions, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 17 at Titans, 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 22 vs. Panthers, 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 29 vs. Giants, 7:30 p.m.

The most intriguing matchup on the Patriots' preseason schedule is with the Panthers, especially after New England reportedly agreed to sign former Carolina quarterback Cam Newton

Newton spent nine seasons with the Panthers before being released in March. He was a free agent for several months before finally landing in New England. This preseason matchup would be Newton's first time playing against the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2011.

It sounds like both the league and NFLPA still have some things to work out regarding the preseason. In any event, playing the full four-game schedule doesn't make a ton of sense given the current COVID-19 situation.