New England Patriots Links 7/16/12 - Deadline Day for Welker; Gronk Not Singled Out

All players given the message to turn their focus to the upcoming season - not just Gronk.

Tom E. Curran tells SportsNet Central "it would be an upset" for the Patriots and Wes Welker agree to a contract extension before the 4 p.m. deadline.

"Talks remain stagnant and by stagnant I mean non-existent," Curran said.

Curran also commented on reports that the Pats have told recently overexposed tight end Rob Gronkowski to cool it on the off-the-field activities. He said every Patriots player gets that message.

"There's nothing formal where they sat him down," Curran said. "Everybody is under the guise of 'let's start to button it up, off-season's over and get to camp."

Mike Reiss shares some quick-hit weekend thoughts from the Patriots and around the NFL.

1. I'm surprised the Patriots and receiver Wes Welker haven't been able to reach an extension that works for both sides. Welker seems to want to be in New England, where his skills are a perfect fit for the offense. And the Patriots seem to want him back, with Tom Brady calling him the "heart and soul" of the team last year. Doesn't seem like it should be this hard.

2. Welker's agent, David Dunn of Athletes First, has a long history of dealing with the Patriots. Dunn represented Drew Bledsoe when he signed his big contract with the team, and his agency currently represents nine Patriots, including 2011 first-round draft choice Nate Solder. That's the highest total of any agency.

5. Patriots rookies report for training camp this Thursday. The veterans come in Wednesday, July 25, giving the rookies some time in a less-crowded environment to get a running start heading into training camp. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower is the club's lone unsigned selection, but it's hard to imagine a holdout situation given the slotting of contracts in the collective bargaining agreement.

9. Given that so much changes from year to year in the NFL, the strength of schedule stat seems flawed when analyzing how challenging a 16-game season can be. Still, expect to hear a lot about the stat in these parts, as the Patriots have the "easiest" schedule when considering the combined 2011 winning percentage of their opponents is .453.

10. Outside of 2007, when the Patriots added Randy Moss, Welker & Co., I'm not sure I've felt as much anticipation and excitement from followers over the start of training camp in Bill Belichick's tenure. Expectations, it seems, are as high as ever.

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