Welcome to the biggest story of "Free Agent Frenzy." Wes Welker is a Denver Bronco. ESPN's Adam Schefter first broke the news and tweets that the deal is worth a total of $12 million. NFL Network's Albert Breer followed up by saying Welker has signed a two-year contract. Welker has caught 672 passes since 2007, the NFL leader during that period by far. He is the only wide receiver in league history with five 100-catch seasons on his resume, and now he goes from Tom Brady to Peyton Manning.
OK, first, let's take a deep breath and soak this all in.
Wes Welker is playing with Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker . I don't know how to correctly compare that to history, but it is certainly the best passing offense in the current NFL.
How will all of these weapons exist with only one ball in play? Well, I think Thomas' value is impacted the least. He is still the best player in this mix and should remain Manning's No. 1 wide receiver. He's a top-5 WR.
Decker could suffer the most in terms of lost targets and catches, but I would say he is still a very solid WR3.
Perhaps Welker is never as productive with anyone else as he was with Brady. Manning put up an MVP-type season last year, but I think assuming that Welker is going to come in and catch about 100+ passes is dangerous. Yes, he is still a top PPR option, but i would say his value, if nothing else, actually takes a bit of hit here. Like I said, there are a lot of months to feed here -- not even including Willis McGahee or Knowshon Moreno or any of Denver's tight ends -- and that Brady-to-Welker connection was special. I don't know if that can translate right away somewhere else, even if you put Welker with another Hall of Fame QB.
To recap: Thomas' stock doesn't move; Decker takes the biggest drop down but is still starter-worthy; Welker should remain very productive, but this move doesn't greatly improve his fantasy value.
Oh, and Peyton Manning? He will be 37 in a couple of weeks, but he is a clear top-five QB. Consider that Welker is replacing Brandon Stokley in the slot, that is a seismic upgrade. The table is all set for Manning to put up another fantastic stat line.
The Patriots are now in dire straits at wideout. Brady's favorite target is gone, and no one is going to replace what he accomplished. Beyond Brandon Lloyd, their current corps is basically a bunch of unknowns. Danny Amendola is the popular name for them to sign, and he makes a lot of sense, because he is very much like Welker. We'll see what happens there, but Brady's stock has a glaring downward-facing arrow attached to it right now.