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Wes Welker loving his freedom with Denver Broncos

Wes Welker is enjoying his freedom of speech on the Denver Broncos now that he is unconstrained by the draconian shackles of the New England Patriots.

"I feel like I can be myself a little more for sure," Welker said of his freedom to speak his mind to the media in a far-ranging Sunday interview with Yahoo! Sports' Mike Silver.

The wide receiver, who once was benched by Patriots coach Bill Belichick for the first series of a 2010 playoff game for a subtle shot at New York Jets coach Rex Ryan's foot fixation, said the Broncos brass told him "just be yourself."

Welker told Silver that he chose the Broncos in part because of that liberty, but mostly because of the man under center.

"I mean, really, that was kind of by design," Welker said of becoming Peyton Manning's teammate. "There weren't too many quarterbacks that I would've gone out there and played with."

His former quarterback, Tom Brady, didn't enjoy seeing his favorite target join his decade-long nemesis. Welker confirmed reports that Brady was irked by his departure.

"You know, after it happened, obviously we talked and everything like that," Welker said. "He was upset about it, and part of me was a little upset about it too. But things happen for a reason, and I'm excited about the opportunities here and the type of team we have and things that we can do."

Welker said not sticking with Brady was disappointing, but just part of the business.

"It is (a bummer), but I think he understands it, and I understand it," Welker said. " ... It's been going on for years and years. I'm not the first (Patriots) player that this happened to, and I definitely won't be the last."

To the critics who believe Welker was merely a byproduct of Brady's genius and a system that boosted his abilities, the Pro Bowl receiver will be using that to drive him.

"Wherever you can pull any sort of motivation that you need to use to go out there and play the way you need to play, I say use it," Welker said. "So whatever it is, then yeah, I'll definitely pull from wherever I can."

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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