A few years ago as the Denver Broncos were languishing in mediocrity, it was difficult to imagine that they would make a move for first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and all of the sudden their fortunes would turn on a dime.
After a 13-3 regular season finish in 2012 and an AFC Wild Card loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, it felt like the Broncos were only one more weapon away from getting over the hump — one weapon that could have easily made up that 3 point margin against a defensive unit that didn’t necessarily have its best day.
When you examine the Broncos offense, there is solid balance across the board, but the interior passing game could use some improvement. With that improvement the other facets of the scheme — including a comparatively anemic running game given years past — would see plenty of chances to see an uptick.
Running backs Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman worked together to produce at the same level as a first-tier NFL back on the ground, while Hillman and McGahee were both adequate pass-catchers out of the backfield, combining for 47 catches and 388 yards on the season.
Denver certainly isn’t lacking in deep threats at wideout as both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker had banner years in 2012 and promise to only improve as one of the most promising young wideout combinations in all the NFL.
Brandon Stokely served as the team’s nominal third threat at wide receiver last season, but wouldn’t have nearly the impact Wes Welker could have in a similar role as a dual-threat who could either be set out wide in empty sets, or inside in a slot role in the Broncos more traditional offensive sets.
With news circulating today that Wes Welker will not sign an immediate offer from the New England Patriots and for the first time in his career will test the open market of free agency, John Elway and John Fox absolutely should pursue him as the final piece to the Broncos puzzle as they prepare for 2013 and what could indeed be a final run for Peyton Manning under center.
As the Patriots chose not to use their franchise tag on Welker, it’s likely he will be searching for at least what the value of a tagged contract would have provided– around $11.4 million in 2013 with a gradual uptick over the term of a longer contract.
At 31, Welker may not be entering into the final contract negotiations of his NFL career, but if the Broncos are smart they could make a deal which ensures he has the opportunity to finish his career in the Mile High City.
With his versatility added to the explosiveness of Decker and Thomas, the running game could finally open up, allowing Denver to have a truly balanced offense paired with one of the most improved defensive units in all of football.