Wes Welker Signing Doesn't Get the Denver Broncos Any Closer to a Super Bowl
Let me be clear: I like this move for the Broncos.
Welker should be a fantastic complement for Peyton Manning and is the prototypical slot receiver with two very good outside receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. It's a clear upgrade from Brandon Stokley and Jacob Tamme, who spent the most time in the slot for the Broncos in 2012.
Moreover, I love the idea that the Broncos are investing even more on the offensive side of the ball. Welker's age (32 by next season) isn't that much of a concern since their window of success is centered around a quarterback celebrating his 37th birthday this month.
So, is this a negative deal for the Broncos? By no means! Kudos to John Elway and Co. for getting Welker at such a reasonable price (two years, $12 million).
Does this deal get the Broncos any closer to the Super Bowl? Absolutely not.
Receiving was not a problem for the Broncos last season. While strengthening one's strengths is a great offseason strategy, it's a trickier proposition than simply taking Welker's receptions and adding them to the Broncos' totals.
Even if that were the case, does that really matter? The Broncos were fifth in passing offense last season, and three of the four teams above them weren't playoff teams—Detroit, Dallas and New Orleans. Only the Patriots passed for more yardage than the Broncos and made the playoffs.
Maybe that's why so many people seem to like this deal so much. Not only does this improve the Broncos, but it also hurts the Patriots. It's genius!
Will the Broncos play in the Super Bowl next year?
For better or for worse, right or wrong, Bill Belichick believes in his heart of hearts that Welkers grow on trees. He found the former undrafted castaway on the scrapheap, and the Pats have already signed Danny Amendola as a replacement (five years, $31 million).
Deion Branch tried to leave the Patriots for greener pastures. It didn't work. Next came Randy Moss, who had his career revitalized in New England and thought that had something to do with him. For those keeping score at home, the Patriots are 2-for-2 in letting their receivers walk.
The Patriots believe that Tom Brady is the only cog their offense truly needs to excel. The pieces around Brady can change, and he'll still chase down history as one of the NFL's all-time best passers.
Then there's the question if Welker truly is the slot receiver we all think he is. According to Pro Football Focus' slot performance rating (subscription required), Welker was the fifth-best slot receiver in the NFL last season.
First on that list? Brandon Stokley.
Where Welker topped his peers was in volume, as he was second to only Reggie Wayne in number of slot receptions. However, he also led that group with 13 drops.
Yet, if it's a question of volume, are the Broncos just bringing in Welker to take away targets from Thomas or Decker? That hardly seems like a game-changer, either.
Taking a step back: Is Welker better than Stokley? Of course. Could the two coexist if Stokley re-signs with the Broncos? Sure. Yet, in the role Stokley played last season, is Welker that much of an upgrade—especially when one considers the chemistry Stokley already has with Manning? I'm not so sure.
Has this truly made the Patriots worse? Maybe temporarily.
Has this deal truly made the Broncos better? Probably, but by how much?
The Broncos made a tremendous signing within hours of the start of free agency—grabbing offensive guard Louis Vasquez away from the San Diego Chargers. They have a lot of work left to do on both sides of the ball and, oh yeah, still have this little thing called the draft ahead of them.
The Broncos are trending in the right direction and are Super Bowl contenders next season. The idea that this one move is singularly putting them over the top, however, is just hype. The Broncos should not (and likely will not) rest on their laurels as if their work is done.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.
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