In my column a few days ago I said that Wes Welker‘s best option was staying put with the New England Patriots and taking whatever offer they made him. I never dreamed that the Denver Broncos would actually offer Welker a $12 million, 2-year contract. While Welker will work well in the Broncos system, it’s my feeling that they severely overvalued him.
I did state that I didn’t think Welker would be as successful on any team that didn’t have a guy named Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning as quarterback…so I guess I was partially correct.
But even with another sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback throwing to him, Welker still isn’t going to come near the production that he had with the Patriots. The Broncos run a different scheme. It’s not that Denver runs the ball more than New England, but it’s just a different kind of football. Denver leans on their defense, and they don’t play the same kind of possession game with their wide receivers.
Welker obviously feels like his relationship with Bill Belichick and the Patriots is strained enough that trying to negotiate a deal to remain with the team wasn’t worth the effort. He may find that to be a mistake when all is said and done. We’ve seen this kind of thing before, when receivers who are successful in a particular system move to another team and fade away.
The five-time Pro Bowler did next to nothing in his first few years in the league with the Miami Dolphins (and a cup of coffee with the San Diego Chargers), and it wasn’t until he joined Tom Brady and the Patriots that he found his niche and started delivering some big numbers. Could he repeat that success with Manning and the Broncos? Quite possibly, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
The Broncos got themselves a good receiver, no doubt about that, and he’s someone that will most likely get in sync with Peyton Manning fairly quickly. I’m just not sure that $12 million is a fair price to pay for a guy who really isn’t a multi-purpose player anymore. Welker will be a slot receiver, and that’s about it. After eight years in the league and some vicious hits that Welker has taken over the course of his career, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be returning kicks again.
The Patriots, as they always do, will find another warm body to plug in to Welker’s spot (more than likely Julian Edelman), and they will get close to the same and possibly more production out of him than they did Welker. In the end, everyone will end up winning with this deal except the Broncos salary cap number.