The biggest surprise of the off-season may have just happened with Wes Welker signing with the Denver Broncos. It comes as a surprise considering how much of an integral part Welker was to the New England Patriots success. He was one of the main crowd favorites and was Tom Brady's main target in an offense of many weapons.
According to ESPN, this was the actual deal that made Welker a part of the Broncos.
Welker's deal is worth $12 million, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports.
How It Affects Denver: Peyton Manning has to be thrilled with this move. Even though the Broncos could use help at running back, they added another weapon that Peyton Manning can use. Welker may be declining, but he's still coming off a season where he had 118 receptions. He is going to be the perfect asset in the Broncos offense with Demaryius Thomas becoming a complete number 1 receiver.
Then they have role players like Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme, who both contributed in a major way last season. Denver's passing attack was close to being unstoppable and now they add Welker to the mix. This offense is going to be scarier now and has to make Denver the pre-season Super Bowl favorite.
It also helps that the contract was only for 2 years, since Welker will be 34 when his contract ends in Denver. He still has a few more years where he can still be productive in the slot and still give opposing defenses fits. I'm expecting him to be even more effective since Denver has a true deep threat in Thomas. New England hasn't had a true deep threat that defenses had to game-plan for since Randy Moss.
How It Affects New England: I'm still undecided on how much this will truly hurt Tom Brady. Obviously, there was major chemistry between him and Welker. This may also cause some conflict in the locker room with how valuable Welker was. We'll have to wait until September to truly find out how much they miss him.
Until then, it's clear that New England will be looking for a wide receiver. I'm expecting them to push hard to sign Danny Amendola. Despite his injury problems, Amendola has been very productive in a Rams offense that doesn't exactly have many weapons. He has worked his way to being productive and he seems like the perfect fit to make Brady forget about Welker.
They could possibly sign Greg Jennings, but they'll likely be scared away by his age and price tag. The fact that they didn't sign Welker for 6 million a year shows how cautious they are with their money. They'll have to sign someone, but New England is going to see their options before investing in a top wide receiver on the market.
The changing of the guard has probably shifted in the AFC. New England is always a Super Bowl favorite, but now you have to look at Denver even more and see them being the better team. New England will recover from this, but it'll be interesting to see how they cope without Welker and knowing that he went to a Super Bowl contender in the same conference.
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