- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has long been outspoken about his appreciation for wide receiver Wes Welker, who totaled more receptions than any other player during the last six seasons in the NFL, but he said on Thursday morning that Welker's free-agent departure to Denver did not come as a surprise, as he's played in the NFL long enough to understand the nature of the business.
"I don't think anything surprises me anymore in the NFL," he said on the "Dennis & Callahan Show" on WEEI sports radio in Boston. "I've been around long enough to see things happen at different times with the greatest players of all, whether that's Wes or Randy Moss being traded by the Raiders or Brett Favre and playing for the Jets and Vikings.
"That's what happens, this is a, like I said, it's a very tough, competitive business and nobody appreciated Wes more than I did and what he was able to accomplish for our team," he continued. "He's moved on, he's in a good situation with another great team and a great quarterback. We always kind of kept in touch, we always will. He's one of my best friends."
Though Brady and Welker shared a close connection, the 35-year old quarterback wouldn't classify his feelings over Welker joining the Broncos as anger or disappointment.
"Of course I have feelings, but those feelings are very personal to me," he said. "I used to get caught up in angry and disappointment, but I don't make the decisions, these things aren't up to me. At some point you've got to realize the things that are out of your control, you've just to to let go, focus on my job and what I need to do. The game moves on, the team moves on, there's only so long you can dwell on the past and at some point you've got to move forward.
"Like I said, my job for my team is to be the best quarterback and not the general manager, not the coach and not the owner," Brady added. "It's to try to go out there and bring my own competitiveness to the field so that those guys that I'm playing with this year can rely on me and count on me to be the best I can be."
Prior to the start of free agency, Brady agreed to a three-year contract extension through 2017 that created over $15 million in cap space during the next two league years. When asked if the extension was motivated in part to create financial flexibility to ensure that Welker was re-signed, Brady rebuffed that he made such a request.
"Those aren't my demands," he replied. "I want us to field as competitive a team as we can. And I have all the trust in the world that Mr. Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft] and coach Belichick do that. There's nothing about me, I don't say that, I'm not general manger. I can't say 'I do this, you do this.' That's what my decision was, it was kind of a value proposition for me and wanting to be in this system with Coach Belichick and the other players that I've been able to play with.
"I think we are going to field a competitive team," he said. "It's been competitive thus far through the offseason conditioning and OTA's thus far. We've been close; we were in the Super Bowl two years ago, we were in the AFC championship last year and I know we have a good team, we've just got to do a few more things better. Hopefully that will lead to more success."
Brady was asked to compare the player that many are pegging to take over Welker's role, free agent signee Danny Amendola.
"[They play] similar positions, they're about the same height, they've both got very good ability," he answered. "It's hard, Wes was so productive for so long, I think it's unfair to compare anyone to Wes and what he was able to accomplish in his time here. Danny is really, he's just been fun to work with. I think he's come in with an open mind and an understanding of the way that we as Patriots, the way we need to play."
EXTRA POINT: Brady was also asked to share his thoughts on tight end Rob Gronkowski, who recently underwent a fourth surgery on a broken forearm that was initially suffered back in November of 2012. "I think with any injured player, you're always hoping they come back fresh and strong and healthy. He's dealing with his situation and I hope that he's out there as soon as he can be, as soon as he's ready I want him out there helping the team win. He's been battling through a long time, his mental toughness and his excitement and what he brings to the team are really unmatched. When he is healthy, I'll be excited to have him out there. It'll be nice to see what our offense can be when Aaron [Hernandez] is out there, Rob is out there and all the other guys that have been injured have [can be] out there and can contribute fully to the team."
Click HERE to listen to the full interview