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From the Hart: McGinest off base in Welker criticism

Former Patriots outside linebacker Willie McGinest, now an analyst for NFL Network, had some pretty critical comments regarding New England franchised wide receiver Wes Welker this week.


Welker has not signed his $9.5 million franchise tender, is not participating in the Patriots offseason workouts at Gillette Stadium and said this week that he may not attend the team's upcoming spring and summer mini-camps as he works to leverage the situation with an eye on a long-term contract with the team.

Here's what McGinest had to say, with a thanks to for the great transcription job:

"I just don't like the diva attitude," McGinest said on NFLN's 'Total Access.' "Let's keep it real: prior to the Patriots, this is a guy who played three years, had 96 receptions and never had a 1,000-yard season. Due to a big part of the Patriots offensive system and Tom Brady, he's had five years where he's had over 100 catches. Of those five years until he got hurt [2010], he had over 1,000 yards receiving [each year].

"Let's just keep everything in perspective: a big part of that is due to the Patriots … Let's not forget that they signed Brandon Lloyd, they signed [Anthony] Gonzalez, they signed [Deion] Branch back, they have the two tight ends – they have weapons on that offense.

"So look Wes, it's time to take off the leopard-printed cowboy boots, get off the party tour and get back to work. [During] my tenure in New England, no matter how big you were or who you were, nobody said that they weren't coming to a mandatory minicamp. If you know anything about New England, understand that you're expendable. Unless you're Bill Belichick or Tom Brady, you're expendable."

McGinest's comment struck a nerve with me. While I think there are legitimate arguments for both the Patriots and Welker in this negotiation, McGinest seemingly blindly and hypocritically took in only one side.

It's easy for McGinest – who was the No. 4 overall pick in 1994 – to basically tell Welker to shut his mouth, take what he gets and get to work. Easy for a guy who as a top pick made a lot of money entering the league and then made more than $50 million over his career in which some would argue at various points he was very much overpaid. No matter which side you take in this negotiation, you can't argue that Welker has ever been overpaid.

McGinest also made it personal by calling Welker a diva and mocking his "leopard-printed boots." Was there anyone who was more of a glamour and Hollywood type than the So-Cal bred McGinest? He hung out with Snoop and made records. He was always at celebrity events. Come on. Ever hear of 55 Entertainment? Yeah, that's McGinest's company, one he started while he was still playing.

Finally, Welker wouldn't even be close to the first Patriot in the Belichick era to have a contract dispute keep him from work. Ever hear of Richard Seymour, Logan Mankins, Deion Branch and Asante Samuel? This type of thing has happened before and it happens for every team.

I'm not saying I'm in the so-called Welker camp on this issue. Or the Patriots camp. Welker has been underpaid his entire career, especially the five-year deal over which he caught more than 500 passes for New England for $18 million in compensation.

But he's also 31 (on May 1), takes a lot of hits, has already had an ACL injury and is more valuable to the Patriots than he probably is to most other teams. He can't expect a deal comparable to other receivers in their mid- or late-20s when he's in his early 30s. He can't be paid in the future for his production in the past.

This is a very difficult and complex negotiation between a team doing good business the way business is done with the franchise tag in the NFL and a receiver who's been more than that team could ever ask for.

For McGinest to make it a one-sided issue is ridiculous and ill-conceived. The former player certainly isn't talking like one. The only part he had right is that everyone in New England not named Bill Belichick and Tom Brady is replaceable. But that doesn't mean a player shouldn't fight for what he believes he's worth.

Even McGinest, in his cushy studio gig with probably $50 million in the bank should be able to see that. But maybe those down days in Cleveland have clouded his judgement.

What did you think of McGinest's comments? Let us know with a comment below!

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