As first reported by Adam Schefter, five-time Pro Bowl slot receiver Wes Welker has agreed to terms with the Broncos.
And there it is: what many in New England thought wouldn't happen has. Wes Welker has left the Patriots. He's a Bronco.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2013
There was talk earlier in the day that New England had made a "laughable" offer to Welker. In discussing that point with Ted at the time, I had suggested to him that the Pats were offering $6M/year.
Incredibly, that's what the Broncos landed him for. No matter how much is guaranteed - and maybe all of it is - it's a stunning deal, and a brilliant stroke by John Elway & Company.
Over six seasons in New England, Welker averaged 112 receptions, 1,243 yards, and six touchdowns.
A Texas Tech alum along with new Denver teammates Manny Ramirez and Louis Vasquez, Welker went undrafted in 2004 and was not invited to the national scouting combine, a snub he shares in common with new teammates Chris Harris and Tony Carter.
San Diego signed him as an undrafted rookie, but waived him after just one game.
Again, the entire league was given a chance to acquire Welker, but passed.
So he signed with the Dolphins, who discovered in Week 5 that they had a player with quite a diverse skill set. Following an injury to kicker Olindo Mare during pregame warmups, Welker was called into duty as his replacement, and he kicked an extra point and a 29-yard FG which closed the day's scoring.
He also added a special teams tackle, five punt returns, and five kick returns, and thus was born the legend of Wes Welker, jack of all trades.
Even still, the Dolphins didn't make use of his receiving skills until the next season, and even then, he only had 29 receptions in 2005, with zero touchdowns.
2006 was when Welker went from interesting story to oft-targeted receiver, and he tallied 67 receptions for 687 yards and one score.
Miami placed a second-round restricted tender on their emerging star, but this was back when poison pills were all the rage in the NFL (they've since been eliminated in the CBA), and the Patriots were apparently prepared to load up such a deal that would be unmatchable for the Dolphins.
Instead of drafting up a complex contract, New England traded their second-rounder to Miami, plus an extra seventh-rounder for their troubles.
Over the next six seasons, Welker would develop quite the rapport with Tom Brady, to the tune of 672 catches (most in Patriots history), 7,459 yards (second most), and 37 touchdowns.
When Brady agreed to his below-market extension last month, Mike Silver wondered how the Patriots QB would react if his favorite target ended up catching passes from Peyton Manning in 2013.
Well, we're about to find out.
- John Fox discusses the signing
- Andrew Mason analyzes the move for the official site
- Denver Post (Mike Klis, Mark Kiszla)
- USA Today (Lindsay Jones, Jarrett Bell)
- Sports Illustrated (Don Banks, Peter King)
- Yahoo (Mike Silver)
- CBS (Pete Prisco, Mike Freeman, Will Brinson)
- NFL (Bucky Brooks)
- NY Times (Judy Battista)
- ESPN (James Walker, Bill Williamson)
Updated 10:54pm ET