Before the end of February, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reworked his contract in order to free up some cap space in order to help the team. Many thought that this meant the Patriots were gearing up to keep wide receiver Wes Welker on the team when the free agency period began. Instead, the Patriots did not seem to make any move toward Welker on Tuesday. By late Wednesday afternoon, it was all over and Tom Brady had lost one of his favorite targets to one of his biggest rivals.
Wes Welker has signed a deal with the Denver Broncos, reported to be in the neighborhood of $12 million for two years. He will now be catching passes from another of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, Peyton Manning. Adding Welker to an already formidable receiving corps that includes Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker only improves the chances that Denver will make a deep playoff run next season.
Broncos head coach John Fox said of the signing:
"You try to surround your quarterback with weapons. I think we took a big step in signing Wes Welker."
ESPN.com's Adam Schefter reports a league source informed him that in response to the loss of Welker, the Patriots contacted representatives for St Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola. The report states that the two sides have come to an agreement in principle on a five-year, $31 million contract with $10 million of it guaranteed.
Amendola has been plagued by injuries the last two seasons and in his four years in the NFL, has only played a full 16 games once. Overall, he has appeared in 42 games over the course of his four seasons, with the low being 2011 in which he was knocked out in the first game of the season and did not come back until the start of the 2012 campaign.
Welker, by comparison, has missed only three regular season games due to injury since coming to New England in 2007. His steady production and durability will likely be missed more than the Patriots realize in the 2013 season. But, as they say in New England, "In Bill We Trust." Patriots fans have thought that the loss of major offensive and defensive players were going to doom them in the past, but they have survived and continued to thrive. They did it before and they'll do it again.