Broncos top executive John Elway, on the other hand, delivered the goods. NFL.com's Albert Breer first reported Wednesday that Welker agreed to terms on a two-year, $12 million contract with the Denver Broncos. A source close to the situation later told NFL Network's Michelle Beisner that Welker will receive a $4 million bonus and a $2 million salary in 2013 and a $3 million bonus and a $3 million salary in 2014.
What a moment in time this is for the Patriots and the entire AFC title race. Welker, a five-time Pro Bowl receiver, goes from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady to another in Peyton Manning. The No. 1 seed in the AFC from a year ago takes away the top receiver from the No. 2 seed. Welker's departure mirrors Adam Vinatieri's to the Indianapolis Colts in 2006. And the Broncos didn't even have to give up long-term guaranteed money to get him.
"Anytime you can take a player from a team you have to compete against, it helps, especially the caliber of Wes Welker," Elway said, via The Associated Press. "New England is there year in and year out, and that's a team we have to beat to get where we want to get."
For so many years, we heard Welker was a "product of the system." That always underplayed Welker's terrific quickness and his ability to recognize coverages and make the right decisions on option routes. It's hard to imagine Welker succeeding everywhere, but he's absolutely a perfect fit for Manning and the Broncos.
Welker will work the middle of the field with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas on the outside. You can only double cover so many wideouts, and Thomas will attract a lot of attention. More than ever, Manning loves to get rid of the ball quickly. That plays to Welker's strengths; he's a huge upgrade from Brandon Stokley, who managed 45 catches last year at age 36 in Denver.
We're surprised the Patriots valued Welker so little. But this long saga between the Patriots and Welker seemed to be about more than money. Welker took the negotiations personally, just like he took his brief benching early last season personally.
Welker always has played with a chip on his shoulder. He'll be more motivated than ever to stick it to his former team, just like he always used to stick it to the Miami Dolphins.
Oh, by the way: The Broncos head to Foxborough next season.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.