Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
For the second straight week since returning from his concussion injury, Welker didn't have an impressive game from a statistical viewpoint.
In the Broncos' 26-16 victory over the Patriots, Welker had four receptions for 38 yards. This performance was a week after Welker had totaled 38 yards in the victory over the San Diego Chargers in the divisional round.
Welker may not have had an impressive performance, and he may not have been close to being the player of the game, but his value cannot go unnoticed.
Both Demaryius and Julius Thomas were able to have major impact in the passing game due to the presence of Welker. Because of the amount of talent Denver has on offense, combined with the presence of Welker, Demaryius and Julius Thomas both faced single coverage the entire game.
When you take a look at Denver's "Big Four," also featuring Eric Decker, Welker has the least impressive statistics of them all—in 13 games played, Welker had just 778 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. That is the lowest total in both categories of any of Denver's receivers in the "Big Four."
However, Welker's impact on a game wasn't just noticed on the Broncos' offensive side of the ball—it was noticed on the Patriots' offensive side of the ball.
Danny Amendola, the receiver who was offered a bigger contract by the Patriots than Welker, contributed a total of zero catches during the Patriots' loss.
There was Brady, the two-time NFL MVP and three-time NFL champion struggling to move his offense down the field all game long due to the lack of separation his receivers were drawing.
This was in spite of the injury to Chris Harris and the fact the Broncos were starting the 35-year-old Champ Bailey, who hadn't started a game since Week 13, and had started a total of three games all season long.
Denver's production on offense Sunday, combined with New England's lack of ability to produce on that side of the ball, displayed just how valuable Welker is as an offensive piece.
The Patriots letting Welker walk due to Bill Belichick's stubbornness will forever go down as one of the dumbest moves by an NFL franchise.