The 33-year-old wide receiver has had an illustrious NFL career, paving the way for other height-deficient pass-catchers to carve their own niches in passing games around the league. However, a recent rash of concussions, age and roster moves make a return to the Broncos in 2015 highly unlikely.
Last season, Welker missed three games due to numerous concussions. While that certainly isn’t a lot of missed games by NFL standards, it matched the amount of non-appearances throughout his first eight years in the league, which isn’t a promising sign for his future health. Especially at age 33 – which is old by NFL standards – Welker simply isn’t worth the money he’ll command on the open market.
The Broncos also appear to be preparing their roster for a future without Welker. This offseason, they signed Emmanual Sanders, who also excels out of the slot. Considering they paid Sanders a pretty penny to come to Denver, they aren’t going to fork out big money to retain Welker, who essentially plays the same position. The Broncos also added Cody Latimer via the 2014 NFL Draft, and expect him to develop into a contributor quickly.
During the 2014 campaign, Welker will rake in $8 million as the Broncos go all-in on making another Super Bowl run. The veteran will certainly be one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets yet again, but could soon be facing the sad reality that Father Time is not his friend. The Broncos are already aware, which is why this will be Welker’s last go-around in Denver.
If Welker can stay healthy this season, he stands a good chance of landing a sizable contract via free agency in 2015 – it just won’t be with the Broncos.