"Having been in this league for 16 years, I had so many good friends go out the door year after year after year. You kind of realize it's part of the business," Elway told Dave Logan of 850 KOA (via DenverBroncos.com) on Monday.
Welker is five years younger than Stokley and is coming off an 118-catch season, providing an upgrade at the slot position for quarterback Peyton Manning. But it's still hard for fans—and even Elway—to see a player like Stokley leave.
"He came in and was a tremendous help for us. Great guy. Great leader. It's always hard to have a quality guy like that leave you," concluded Elway.
Stokley is a down-to-earth athlete that has been clutch as a slot receiver in the NFL since 1999, making him a fan favorite. He spent two different stints in Denver (2007-2009 and 2012) and created some historic memories along the way.
Including this epic play:
Despite losing his gig in Denver to Welker, Stokley is not yet ready to call it quits.
"This is about the only thing I do halfway decent, so for me, why not (continue playing)?” Stokley said in January. “I feel like I still love it, I still love competing and I still love playing football, so hopefully I’ll get another opportunity.”
That opportunity won't be in Denver, but the original Slot Machine is currently considering other options. Stokley visited the Tennesse Titans last week, according to Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean.
Thanks for the memories, Brandon. Wishing you all the best in 2013 and beyond.