Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 17
NFL Network's Albert Breer reports when Wes Welker will return to the Broncos:
Among those being informed tonight of their reinstatement: Broncos WR Wes Welker, Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick, Rams WR Stedman Bailey.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 17, 2014
ESPN.com's Staff continued with additional details:
Welker, who was suspended four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, is set to be reinstated when the NFL and the players' union finalize the drug policy changes they tentatively agreed upon last week.
Union spokesman George Atallah told The Associated Press on Monday that the "drug policies are currently getting finalized." League and NFL Players Association attorneys and officials are reviewing the documents and could approve them this week.
Updates from Sunday, Sept. 7
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reports what triggered Wes Welker's positive test:
Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker's four-game amphetamine suspension was triggered by his use of Adderall during the Kentucky Derby, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, and not Molly.
Internally, the Broncos already had concerns about Welker's ability to sustain a 16-game season, not because of a potential suspension, but because of his health, so the concept of having to play without the former Pro Bowler for a period of time is something they were ready for.
The Denver Broncos will be without Wes Welker for the first four games of the 2014 regular season.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the NFL suspended the 33-year-old wide receiver after he tested positive for amphetamines:
Filed to ESPN: Broncos WR Wes Welker has been suspended four games for use of amphetamines, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 2, 2014
According to Albert Breer of NFL Network, Welker appealed his suspension and received the final verdict on Tuesday:
Welker's appeal happened two weeks ago. Parties were notified today that he lost the appeal.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 2, 2014
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio provided some insight as to how the positive test might have come about:
Source: Welker took Molly at the Kentucky Derby. It had been cut with amphetamines. Same situation as Orlando Scandrick.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 2, 2014
Coach John Fox commented on the news via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun:
John Fox: “Tonight’s news regarding Wes is very disappointing for our team, but we understand the league’s authority in this area."— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) September 3, 2014
Welker released a statement via Mike Klis of the Denver Post:
I'm as shocked as everyone at todays news. I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I would NEVER knowingly take a substance to gain a competitive advantage in any way. Anyone who has ever played a down with me, lifted a weight with me, even eaten a meal with me, knows that I focus purely on what I put in my body and on the hard work I put in year round to perform at the highest levels year-in and year-out.
I want any youth football players and all sports fans to know, there are NO shortcuts to success, and nothing but hard work and studying, leads to success.
I have never been concerned with the leagues performance enhancing or drug abuse policies because under no scenario would they ever apply to me, but I now know, that (drug-policy procedures) are clearly flawed, and I will do everything in my power to ensure they are corrected, so other individuals and teams aren't negatively affected so rashly like this.
I have worked my whole life to be the best that I can be, and I have encountered many obstacles over my career, and THIS WILL BE NO DIFFERENT!
Thank you for the outpouring of support, and I want Bronco nation to know, that no one and no thing will get in the way of our goal as a team, to bring Mr. Bowlen the trophy he and this great region deserve.
Klis also noted that there was some speculation that Welker had taken Adderall:
Officially, Welker tested positive for an amphetemine. A source close to the situation said Welker tested positive for Adderall. Welker wasn't sure what exactly flagged his positive test but he was incensed at a report he took a Molly at the Kentucky Derby. He does wonder if someone put something in his drink at the Derby.
“I wouldn't have any idea where to get a Molly or what a Molly is,” he said. “That's a joke. I don't do marijuana, I don't do drugs. I don't do any drugs.”
Breer reported that Welker tested positive in May, which would match the timeline from Florio’s report about Welker and the Kentucky Derby, which was run on May 3:
Per two sources, Wes Welker's positive test came in May.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 2, 2014
Welker's status for the Broncos' Sunday night game was already in doubt after he suffered a concussion in the third week of the preseason. As Bleacher Report's Will Carroll pointed out, he'll now have a full month to recover from that head injury:
On the upside, Welker has four more weeks to let his brain heal.— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) September 2, 2014
NFL salary-cap expert Brian McIntyre calculated that the suspension will cost Welker over $700,000:
Four-game suspension for Broncos WR Wes Welker will cost him $705,882 in base salary— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) September 2, 2014
While this is a loss for Denver, the Broncos passing game likely won't be seriously hindered by Welker's absence. The team didn’t have him toward the tail end of the 2013 regular season, and the offense was none the worse for wear, per ESPN Stats and Info:
Broncos will be without Wes Welker for 1st 4 games of 2014 Last season, Welker didn't play Week 15-17 Broncos averaged NFL-best 30.3 PPG— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 2, 2014
Demaryius Thomas is one of the best wideouts in the league, and tight end Julius Thomas should only build upon his breakout 2013 campaign, in which he was one of the most productive at his position. The presence of Emmanuel Sanders should also help compensate for any production lost with Welker on the sidelines, and rookie Cody Latimer could have a larger role, too.
In short, the franchise's goal of winning a Super Bowl remains well within reach, even with Welker out for the first quarter of the schedule.