NFL: Grading the Most Meaningful Free Agent Signings

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Denver Signs Wes Welker

The New England Patriots didn’t seem to want Wes Welker, but the Denver Broncos are happy to take his services.

Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker (83) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Albert McClellan (50) on a punt return during the first quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Welker, the leader in catches over the last six seasons, signed with Denver for $12 million dollars over two years, a steal for a receiver like him. Welker is a small receiver (he is 5’9) who isn’t afraid to go over the middle, and he will thrive in Denver’s system.

Why? Because while John Fox is known for being a run-heavy coach, the team caters to Peyton Manning’s strengths by throwing lots of short passes. Welker isn’t afraid to go over the middle, and he can hang on to the ball. He can gain the trust of Manning like he did with Brady, who threw to him a lot on third downs and overall. Welker caught 118 passes and was targeted 174 times, or about 11 times per game.

Oh, and he picked up 1,354 receiving yards.

Manning is known for developing good chemistry with receivers and making guys better, and Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker took vast strides under Manning. According to the Denver Post, executive John Elway got Manning’s approval before pursuing Welker, meaning Manning wants Welker on the Broncos.

Welker is an underrated system receiver who is a perfect fit for the Bronco offense and he has the potential to be great. He gets a lot of heat for dropping passes, but from 2009-2011, his drop rate was under 10 percent. Welker had a good amount of drops in 2012, but his drop rate was just over 10 percent.

The star receiver can catch a lot of passes and will make some great catches, like this one here in the 2013 NFL Playoffs. He’s valuable and is perfect for the Bronco offense, and he came very cheap. To me, it’s clear the Broncos got a steal here.

And if everything turns out the way it’s expected to, Welker could help the Broncos take home a ring in the next couple of years.

Grade: A+