The Denver Broncos have officially signed wide receiver Wes Welker to a two-year, $12 million deal and have become a legitimate contender in the process. Meanwhile, New England Patriots fans around the world are dumbfounded that their team was not able to retain the wide out.
The Patriots are insanely foolish to allow Welker to walk this offseason. The 10-year veteran has been one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL over the past few years and has been very reliable for quarterback Tom Brady. Even though Brady has relied on his tight ends more the past couple of seasons, Welker is still a top target that Brady is going to miss.
It is believed that New England took their sweet time to send an official offer to Welker, who was hoping that the organization wanted him as much as he wanted to stay in Foxborough. Reports suggested that he would have been flexible in contract negotiations, but a reported two-year, $10 million offer was not going to cut it. Welker opted to test out free agency instead to see how much other teams valued him.
Welker was a sought after free agent in the short time he was available, with several organizations interested in acquiring the very talented receiver. It is no secret why the 32-year-old chose to sign with the Broncos for less money than he would have received elsewhere. Welker wants another shot at a Super Bowl ring and he knows Peyton Manning can get him there. This is not saying that Brady could not do the same this year; it is more or less saying that Denver appears to be on the up while New England is on the down.
It is hard to believe the Patriots do not fully understand what they lost, but there might be fans out there that may have no clue. Welker averaged 112 receptions in the six years with New England. His 672 receptions over that span and the five consecutive seasons with at least 100 receptions are both NFL records.
He is the top slot receiver in the game and his numbers prove it. According to ESPN.com, Welker’s league-leading 87 receptions, 1,033 receiving yards and 57 receiving first downs in the slot tallies more than what all Bronco slot receivers were able to accomplish in 2012.
Welker may not be as reliable as he used to be when it comes to hauling in receptions, but a mere 26 drops over a three-year span is still very good.
It will be fascinating to see how Denver fares with Welker now on the team, as Manning will have several talented weapons to throw to, while it will also be interesting to see how his absence affects New England’s offense this upcoming season.