2013 NFL Free Agency: Top 5 Potential Suitors For Wes Welker
If the New England Patriots don’t re-sign wide receiver Wes Welker by 4:00 p.m. on March 12th, then Welker will officially become a free agent. He began his career getting minimal playing time as a receiver and return specialist with the Dolphins. Then, Welker’s status in the league skyrocketed after joining the Patriots in 2007. Since then, Welker has been among the best and most reliable pass-catchers in the NFL, topping 100 catches and 1,000 yards in five of six seasons in New England, earning himself four All-Pro selections in the process.
All that being said, the 31-year-old Welker should be a hot commodity if he does indeed become a free agent. Here’s a look at five teams I believe will be (or should be) going after him in free agency:
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers will have $31.3 million in total cap space this offseason, and should use part of that money to pick up another big-name receiver in free agency. Last year, they landed Vincent Jackson, who caught 72 passes for 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns this year. Jackson played a big role in quarterback Josh Freeman’s improvement this season, and Welker would only help with continuing that. Welker would also be a good addition to play the possession role opposite Jackson’s deep-threat abilities.
4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns have a young receiving corps that possesses a lot of potential. Their problem, however, is inexperience. Josh Cooper, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin were all rookies, while Greg Little was only one year removed from his rookie season. Pair that with a rookie quarterback, and there’s not much veteran knowledge and leadership going on with this offense. Welker could fix that. He would be the perfect safety net for quarterback Brandon Weeden, and could teach the younger receivers how to perfect the art of route running and catching the ball in traffic.
3. Buffalo Bills
The Bills must hate how much the Patriots have dominated them over the past decade. Well, landing Welker could help reverse that trend. With over $20 million in cap space, the Bills once again have room to make a splash in free agency. And with subpar receivers outside Stevie Johnson, the Bills may want to strongly consider chasing Welker.
2. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals should really, really look into signing Welker. They have a rising young star in A.J. Green and big-play potential in rookie Mohamed Sanu. Welker would play the perfect role in the slot on this offense, and add security for quarterback Andy Dalton, who could dump the ball off to Welker rather than just throw it up for Green. Having to cover Green, Sanu and Welker would be a nightmare for defenses, which could help propel them further than just the first round of the playoffs.
1. New England Patriots
I know this may seem like a cop-out answer, but I honestly cannot see the Patriots letting Welker go, despite many good reasons for these other teams to out-bid the Patriots for Welker. Let’s be real—Tom Brady is excellent, but Welker has been a huge part of his success, and the team’s success, since he joined the roster in 2007. Welker is Brady’s go-to-guy in tight situations. Third-and-nine with the game on the line? Brady to Welker completion. This season alone Welker blew everyone else out of the water in targets, receptions and yards. I know the Patriots have invested their future and money in tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but they need Welker for as long as Brady is around.