He didn't put the contract in front of Welker's face. He didn't negotiate it. But he was the impetus. A Broncos team source told me Manning made it clear he wanted Welker if it was at all possible. And it got done.
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John Elway, the team's general manager, wanted Welker as well. Don't get me wrong. So did the coach, John Fox. Elway is smart and so is Fox, but Manning knew what an addition like Welker could do to that offense more than anyone.
The move tells us that Manning knows just how little time is left for him. He wants desperately to get back to a Super Bowl, and this is the kind of change that can get him there.
What I'm told Manning believed was this: Not only do you add a 100-plus-catch guy with Welker, but the Broncos also take away Tom Brady's favorite weapon. Manning may deny he had any say, but he did influence this move.
Manning's influence was the reason the deal progressed so quickly in Denver as opposed to other places, a team source explained.
This wasn't part of Manning's thought process, but is a reality, nonetheless. Brady is a pro and has lost so many receivers from his offense it's all a blur. He'll survive and turn someone else into a Pro Bowler. But this one will sting. Welker and Brady are friends -- close friends -- and Brady is likely more ticked off at losing Welker than, say, Randy Moss a few years back, because of that personal relationship and the fact Welker is such a professional.
Will Welker's departure sour the Belichick-Brady bond? No, but it will sting a bit.
Meanwhile, Manning likely has two to three years left, and he's in a brutal conference that gets better every day. He's always been hungry, always been crazy to win, but now, with the end coming, the desperation is even more intense. That's what this move says.
The Broncos add Welker to a team that already had deep threats and several talented underneath guys. The weapons for Manning pile up. Just the way he likes it.
Are the Broncos a lock to get to the Super Bowl? Too soon to tell, but they just got more dangerous. And their competition lost a key weapon.