COMMENTARY| It was unknown how New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would react after a tumultuous offseason that saw him lose his favorite target in wide receiver Wes Welker. However, it appears it is business as usual for the veteran leader, as he recently expressed his support of the franchise's moves and professed his belief in the 2013 team.
The 35-year-old Brady is entering his 14th NFL season, having already achieved football immortality with 44,806 passing yards, 334 touchdowns and three Super Bowl victories. Some players might be content with such accomplishments but he remains driven and is looking forward to where his team is headed.
Brady appeared Thursday on the Boston-area "Dennis & Callahan" radio show on WEEI, and spoke at length about the offseason and his thoughts about what the upcoming season will hold.
One of the first things Brady did during the offseason was restructure his contract by agreeing to the three-year extension through 2017 that will save the Patriots more than $15 million in cap space. It was assumed that some of those savings would be used to re-sign Welker, who had become a prolific target since joining the team in 2007, by racking up 672 receptions, 7,459 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns during his tenure.
The Patriots shocked many by making what Welker termed a "take it or leave it" offer they refused to negotiate, which subsequently led to him signing a two-year, $10 million deal with the Denver Broncos.
In addition to being his go-to guy on the field, Welker was also one of Brady's closest friends. Although the situation was ripe for dissent, Brady never uttered a negative word about the departure. He told "Dennis & Callanahan," "I used to get caught up in anger and frustration 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 got to let go and focus on my job and what I need to do."
When pressed on why he didn't speak out about the loss of Welker, Brady explained his need to separate personal feelings from what is best for the team. "My job for my team is to be the best quarterback, and not the general manager and not the coach and not the owner."
He also insisted he had no preconceived notions about what New England would do with the money from his restructured contract, explaining, "Those aren't my demands. I want us to field as competitive a team as we possibly can. And I have all the trust in the world that Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft] and coach [Bill] Belichick will do that."
The Patriots have undergone almost a complete overhaul of their wide receiver corps in light of Welker's defection. Kamar Aiken, Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman are the only holdovers from last year. Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Lavelle Hawkins were signed as free agents, while Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce were added through the draft. There have also been a number of undrafted free-agent signings.
With all the additions, Brady said, "Josh [McDaniels] is trying to get everyone on our entire offense up to speed with how we're going to play offense this year, how we're going to try to be more consistent than we've been the last few years."
Since Brady is the face of the franchise and a future Hall of Famer, it's refreshing to see him take the high road in what must have been, at least privately, a disappointing situation. Like a true veteran, he seems ready and eager to move forward and see what the team can accomplish this year.
Even though training camp is still three months away, Brady already believes the Patriots can contend in 2013. "We've been close. We were in the Super Bowl two years ago, we were in the AFC championship last year. I know we have a good team. It's just we've got to do a few more things better."
Only time will tell if New England can live up to the high hopes of their star quarterback, who has proven himself to be the ultimate team player.
Andrew Martin writes for Bleacher Report, where he serves as a Featured Columnist (Boston Red Sox). He has also appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts, and written on the topics of sports and history for a number of print publications and websites.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @historianandrew
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