Closer look at Welker's deal

March, 18, 2013
3/18/13
5:18
PM ET
PHOENIX -- In what could be described as a fiery Q&A with reporters at the NFL's annual meeting, Patriots owner Robert Kraft contended that the team's contract offer to receiver Wes Welker was better than what Welker signed in Denver.

"When you come right down to the bottom line, he accepted a deal in Denver which is less money than what we offered him," Kraft said. "In fact, he has a one-year deal in Denver for $6 million. Our last offer, before we would have even gone up and before we thought we were going into free agency, was a $10 million offer with incentives that would have earned him another $6 million if he performed the way he had the previous two years. But in Denver, he’s going to count $4 million against the cap this coming year and $8 million the second year. There is no guarantee that he plays the second year there. He will get $6 million the first year. Our deal, he would have gotten $8 million the first year – our last offer to him."

The following is the breakdown of Welker's contract with the Broncos:

Signing bonus: $4 million
2013 base salary: $2 million
2014 roster bonus: $3 million
2014 base salary: $3 million

QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: It would be a surprise if Welker doesn't collect the full $12 million from the Broncos. But the deal isn't a fully-guaranteed $12 million, as some initial reports suggested. The Broncos could forgo picking up Welker's $3 million roster bonus in 2014, although that seems unlikely from this view. Also, when Kraft refers to Welker earning $8 million in the first year had he taken the Patriots' offer, it is unclear if that would have included incentives or been guaranteed. This leaves any analysis incomplete at this time as more information is needed (update, 10:15 p.m. ET: It would have been a $4 million signing bonus and a $4 million base salary in 2013.)

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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