The Welker rumor mill has been turning for some time. Talk started after his famed "The Drop" in last season's Super Bowl loss, only to be perpetuated by the drawn-out contract talks between him and the New England Patriots.
Then came Week 1, where Welker sat out a surprisingly high number of snaps, managing just three grabs.
Since then, Welker's been his normal self, averaging nine catches and 121.6 yards per game.
Despite all the speculation, Wes Welker is reminding everyone why he is so vital to this New England Patriots team. And if the Pats are going to sniff another Super Bowl, Welker will be key.
New England is filled with a plethora of offensive weapons, and without one the rest suffer.
With that said, there's no doubt that Welker is Tom Brady's favorite target. In each of the last four seasons, he's led the Patriots in catches and receiving yards.
With a flailing defense, the Patriots have to win on offense. With matches against defensive powerhouses in Houston and San Francisco still on the schedule—as well as possible playoff run-ins with Baltimore and Houston—they need to be as high octane as possible.
Without Welker—Brady's favorite weapon—that will be a tough task.
When it comes to their receiving corps, the Patriots need all the good fortune they can get.
Rob Gronkowski spent the majority of the offseason with a boot on, after having surgery to repair his ankle. Aaron Hernandez has already missed games this season with an ankle sprain.
Then there's Julian Edelman, whose hand injury has kept him out for the last three weeks.
Welker hasn't been impervious over the years, but since an injury shortened 2009 he's been the model of health. He continues to go strong this season.
With ailments surrounding the Pats wideouts, they need some healthy guys to lean on. Welker definitely matches that description, and it makes him all the more vital.
With Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots have a deep threat. With Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, they have a short-to-mid-range threat.
Wes Welker can burn you just about anywhere.
While a huge part of Welker's game is running the short route, he's just as big a threat downfield. Not to mention how dangerous he is after the catch.
Welker's also great at running his routes, which makes him dangerous on the sidelines or down the middle.
The more New England can spread opposing defenses, the more dangerous they are. That becomes a lot easier with a multidimensional weapon like Welker.
While Welker is no longer a member of the Pat's kick return team, he's still a big weapon on punts.
In his career, No. 83 is averaging 10.2 yards per return with an average of three returns per game.
With Julian Edelman missing a majority of the season so far, Welker has become much more important in the return game.
He's already accumulated six returns on the season, averaging 14.5 yards per return.
If the Patriots have learned anything in their Belichick era Super Bowls, it's that special teams is a game changer. Who better to have around than the ultimate game changer.
With their dynamic duos at tight end and running back, the Pats have a slew of dangerous red-zone options.
But what's one more?
That's where Welker comes in. His ability to get open anywhere on the field makes him very elusive when it comes to getting to the end zone.
While New England's never going to lean on him as their only scoring threat, he's one more. And the more guys they have who can score, the better they are.
Some people buy into team chemistry, others just look for pure talent. Either way, Wes Welker encompasses both.
Welker is the heart of the Patriots offense, and he brings something unique into the locker room. He's relaxed and lighthearted.
This New England team is filled with players with heart, but they often come off as too serious and broody. Welker is the antithesis to that, making him the glue that holds this team together.
While he's a different character than other guys on the team, Welker has never shied away from accepting his mistakes and bettering his game.
With that double-sided personality, no doubt it makes him that much more important to the Patriots.