Almost a week after the start of the 2013 NFL free agency period, there have been a few teams considered winners in relation to improving their rosters for the 2013 NFL season. One of the clear-cut winners of week 1 of free agency is our Denver Broncos. The Elvis Dumervil contract debacle not withstanding, the Broncos have made a huge impact in the early stages of this “silly season”.
John Elway has displayed the same acumen as Executive VP of Football Operations as he did as quarterback of this Broncos franchise. He saw a need to bolster the offensive line (specifically in the interior) and signed one of the top five guards in the NFL, Louis Vasquez, from divisional rival, San Diego. When it came time to beef up the interior of the defensive, Elway re-signed Kevin Vickerson and reunited Terrance Knighton with defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio from their days in Jacksonville. In addition, he added ILB Stewart Bradley, building much needed depth and size to the middle of the defense. Then he sured up the defensive secondary inking cornerback Dominque Rodgers-Cromarte. However, when it came time to make a huge splash, a shot heard around the NFL, and fill the need of a slot receiver, the Broncos announced the signing of four-time All-Pro, Wes Welker. Welker, who recorded over 110 receptions in five of his six years as Tom Brady‘s favorite receiver in New England will go from catching passes from one Hall-of-Fame Quarteback to another in Peyton Manning.
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I previously scribed that I would have preferred Welker’s replacement in New England, Danny Amendola. However that was written with the belief that he would have come with a much smaller price tag – either short and/or long term – than that of Welker’s. It was reported that Denver offered Welker 2 years and $12 million. His agent then took that offer back to New England, who would not increase its original offer of 2 years and $10 million. Armed with the assumption that Denver would give him the best chance to win the Super Bowl which has eluded him in two previous appearances versus the New York Giants, Welker seemed satisfied to sign on the dotted line. Lining up with Manning, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker creates, arguably the most explosive passing attack in the NFL. In addition, I surmise that in an off-the-record moment, Welker would also admit that this deal with the Broncos gives him the opportunity to exact a measure of revenge against his former employer.
In light of the fact that the Patriots signed Amendola to a 5 year, $28.5 million deal ($5.7 million per year) while the more accomplished and durable Welker was inked for for 3 fewer years and only $300,000 more per year, it’s safe to say that this was one heck of a bargain. So needless to say, for the second straight year the Broncos have landed the best free agent on the market; only on this occasion, they have procured the most productive WR of the past six years, still in his prime and got him at a bargain price. It remains to be seen how this plays out on the field. On the paper though, it would appear that the Broncos got one of the best values in free agency in recent memory.