Wes Welker Trade Rumors: Ranking Top Potential Landing Spots for Patriots WR

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst ISeptember 20, 2012

Wes Welker Trade Rumors: Ranking Top Potential Landing Spots for Patriots WR

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    Regardless of how many snaps Wes Welker sees in the New England Patriots offense, the speculation won't die down. 

    Are the Patriots slowly but surely phasing Welker out of the offense? 

    Will they trade him? 

    CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman thinks it's more than remote possibility:

    What might be happening here...is that the Patriots aren't phasing Welker out. They are preparing to trade him. Several league sources said this is more than some remote possibility. This might actually be a probability and the team is seeing if Edelman could fit into Welker's shoes should the team trade him. 

    This is more the Patriots Way than a phasing out. A sort of stashing of Welker -- and by trading Welker, they would have total control of his destination city. Trading Welker before the Oct. 30 deadline would be very Bill Belichick.

    New England stunningly traded Randy Moss before the trade deadline in 2010, so we know the organization isn't afraid to make a bold personnel decision—some call it "The Patriots Way."

    With trade rumors starting to swirl, let's look at the six teams most likely to land Welker if he's traded.

6. Miami Dolphins

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    Miami Dolphins fans will never forget 2007.

    Not only was it the year the team went a humiliating 1-15, it was the first season without Wes Welker, and the exact season in which Welker and his New England Patriots club set numerous offensive records en route to a 16-0 campaign. 

    The history between these two teams is the only reason why Miami gets a spot on this list. 

    The fact that the Dolphins are in the Patriots' division is the reason why Joe Philbin's team is the least likely to get Welker in a trade from New England. 

    Yes, Miami is in desperate need of wide receivers and Welker could make life much easier for the maturing Ryan Tannehill, but don't count on Bill Belichick to OK a trade with the Dolphins. 

5. Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans have been desperately searching for a productive underneath complement to Andre Johnson. 

    They have 31-year-old Kevin Walter, but his reception total has decreased in each of the last five seasons. 

    More than likely, Gary Kubiak is content with his current roster makeup and knows how to get the most out of his offensive personnel. 

    But you can't rule out their desire to not only make the playoffs but to also advance to the Super Bowl. 

    The addition of Welker could make the Texans the most balanced team in the AFC. Then again, it'd be surprising if New England traded away an established commodity to a legitimate AFC contender. 

4. San Diego Chargers

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    After Vincent Jackson bolted to Tampa Bay in free agency, the Chargers knew they had to replace his downfield production. 

    They signed Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, and while those two could become key offensive contributors as the season progresses, right now, they have combined for six catches and 71 yards in two games. 

    Vincent Brown was on the fast track to becoming a viable pass-catching target for Philip Rivers, but he broke his ankle in the preseason. 

    San Diego's off to a great start at 2-0, and acquiring Welker would add to an offense that undoubtedly needs more fire power. 

    Would the Patriots make a deal with the Chargers?

    Eh. Maybe. 

3. Washington Redskins

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    Not many teams can say they're as aggressive in player acquisition as the Washington Redskins. 

    They sent a handful of draft picks to the St. Louis Rams to move into a position to draft Robert Griffin III in this year's draft, and well, so far, so good. 

    However, the Redskins are far from loaded in the receiving corps. Pierre Garcon is dealing with a foot injury, Santana Moss is visibly slower at age 33. Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson and the maligned Josh Morgan round out the group. 

    Welker could come in and be a steady underneath target for Griffin III, a quarterback with a lightning quick release. 

    The Redskins are in the NFC and don't play the Patriots this year, encouraging for Washington fans who would love to see Welker come to the nation's capital.

2. Carolina Panthers

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    The Panthers believe they can contend for the NFC South crown in Cam Newton's sophomore year. As we've seen over the last few seasons in the NFL, dynamic quarterback play can often overcome other team deficiencies and lead a club deep into the postseason. 

    While Newton will remain a fantasy god due to his improvement as a thrower and otherworldly ability as a runner, Carolina could use more receiving weapons. 

    Steve Smith is Steve Smith, a feisty deep threat who isn't afraid to go over the middle. Third-year pro Brandon LaFell seems to be fitting into the WR No. 2 mold and has the talent to make the most of advantageous situations when Smith is double covered. 

    Louis Murphy is talented, but Welker would be the ideal complement to Smith and LaFell, guys who excel at getting down the field and making huge plays. 

    Newton excelled in his rookie year with reliable veterans like Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen often working underneath, the place where Welker flourishes. 

    Not in the AFC? Check. 

1. Dallas Cowboys

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    Yes, the Roy Williams trade haunts the Dallas Cowboys. 

    That doesn't mean Jerry Jones is scared to pull the trigger again. 

    Tony Romo and Jason Garrett like Kevin Ogletree as the third receiving option, but is he a proven asset? One huge effort against the New York Giants doesn't mean he'll produce all season. 

    With Welker, the Cowboys offensive attack would be exceptionally difficult to defend against, especially if Jason Witten fully recovers from a ruptured spleen and is able to return to his usual form. 

    Jones believes the Super Bowl window is closing on Dallas, which could precipitate the owner/general manager to swing a trade for the slot receiver.