As recently as three days ago, it was very easy to look at some of the pending and/or reported moves going on in Kansas City and think, “Man, the Chiefs could make a run at this thing next year.”
Anyone still feeling that way?
John Elway and the Denver Broncos once again have made a major free agency splash by acquiring Wes Welker. The move is bold, and puts Denver into that rarified category of: By all accounts this team should absolutely be in the Super Bowl next year.
While it’s inaccurate to say Welker’s free agency was ignored, it is fair to say that it wasn’t overly touted – an interesting fact considering the following:
In 2012, Welker led the NFL in receptions, was third in receiving yards, and was 11th in catch rate when targeted (translation: having the 11th most dependable set of hands). Let’s examine that last part a little further.
Interestingly, the man Welker will likely be replacing, Brandon Stokley, was the second most sure-handed receiver in the NFL last year (behind Green Bay’s Randall Cobb). Stokley hauled in exactly three of every four balls thrown his way. Welker brought in exactly two out of every three, which is only slightly worse than Eric Decker. The big qualifier in all of this? How many times each one was targeted.
Stokley: 64 targets
Decker: 132 targets
Welker: 200 targets
That’s right…Wes Welker was thrown to more times than Brandon Stokley and Eric Decker combined last season. The man gets open. In fact, the only receivers thrown at more times than Welker were Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson.
What’s now absolutely bonkers is that as things stand right now, the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons will be the only teams to enter 2013 with THREE of the top 20 receivers (in terms of receptions) on their rosters.
Possibly the best takeaway from the Welker acquisition is the fact that we no longer have to collectively hate him! Years ago Welker was a plucky rookie that, in several occasions, was the lone bright spot on a hapless Miami Dolphins team. He played hard, even once having to assume kicking duties, and was a guy you wanted to support. Then the Patriots snatched Welker up, making it extremely difficult to root for him as he proceeded to help annihilate most every opponent in the league.
Now though…now we can all celebrate another big Broncos move. What better way to appreciate the tenacity of John Elway’s moves than to reflect back into the recent past: Think back to December 2010…bad huh? Okay now flash forward to now and remember Peyton Manning, Von Miller, and Wes Welker are now Broncos!
It’s okay to smile.