The 2012 AFC West Champion Denver Broncos made a big statement today to the rest of the NFL: we are going to be the team to beat in 2013. Wes Welker, the New England Patriots All-Pro slot receiver has agreed to a two year, $12 million deal according to the NFL Network.
Since taking over as executive vice president of football operations on Jan. 5, 2011, John Elway has built the Broncos the right way. Adding key pieces in the trenches on both offense and defense has given Elway the opportunity to secure an aging Hall of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning, while giving him the tools to be successful.
Elway constructed this team with great play-makers at reasonable salaries which has given him flexibility under the salary cap to add the finishing touches. With Welker leaving the Patriots and coming to Dove Valley, Manning must be giddy at the thought of throwing to a top flight receiving corps that also includes Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
The Broncos offense, which was top five in 2012, has not just become incrementally better, they have become incredibly better. Last season, the Broncos had Brandon Stokley in the slot and the wide receiver accumulated 45 catches for 544 yards and five touchdowns. All Welker did for the Patriots was garner 118 catches for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns.
It is safe to say that with Welker on the field, the Broncos have the opportunity to have three 1,000 yard receivers, and every team in both conferences must take notice. Elway is not messing around this offseason as he already has signed G Louis Vasquez away from the San Diego Chargers, and will most likely retain DE Elvis Dumervil at a discounted price.
What is left for the Broncos? Elway is still looking for a running back, and with Reggie Bush, Rashard Mendenhall and Shonn Greene now off the board signing contracts with other teams, maybe Steven Jackson would like to come to Denver?
We have seen this before as Broncos fans. Having a Hall of Fame QB, above average wide receivers and a defense built with play-makers, but this does not always translate to a championship. The Broncos need to add a big back to complement Ronnie Hillman, and possibly Knowshon Moreno if Elway decides to keep him.
But for today, the Broncos have increased their chances at advancing farther in the playoffs than they did in 2012. As we welcome Welker to the Broncos, let’s just hope that Elway has one more trick up his sleeve for the backfield.
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