The Slot Machine returneth…to Baltimore?!

Once Denver made the biggest splash of free agency in adding Wes Welker, it was practically a foregone conclusion that Brandon Stokley would not be re-signed.

The only question was whether the 14-year veteran would retire, wait for a possible injury among Denver's wideouts, or sign somewhere else entirely.

Stokley, of course, served a crucial role in the Broncos' recruitment of Peyton Manning - hosting, and then playing catch with (secretly in a neighborhood park) - his old Indy mate. And once Stokely realized that he, too, might have something left in the tank, he said he'd play in 2012 for the Broncos, or nobody else.

This time around, though, there's no question that Stokes has plenty to offer on the field, given his highly efficient and productive 2012 season.

So, he's heading from Denver to Baltimore, following in the footsteps of Elvis Dumervil and Caleb Hanie, and returning to the franchise that drafted him in 1999, and with which he earned his first of two Super Bowl rings.

Stokley had drawn interest from the Titans in March, but there had been no speculation since, as to where he might end up.

Baltimore's injury problems apparently prompted the team's interest in the Slot Machine, as the Ravens have lost TE Dennis Pitta for the season, WR Anquan Boldin was traded to San Francisco, and WR Deonte Thompson has been hobbled.

Once again, we have to bid Stokes adieu.

But we'll always have this...

...and this...

Thanks for the memories, Brandon, and best of luck. Except, of course, in Week 1.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM