Wes Welker is now a member of the Denver Broncos, which means he'll be catching passes from Peyton Manning instead of Tom Brady, the guy who helped catapult his career from backup placekicker to perennial Pro Bowler. But Brady and Welker were more than teammates, there were BFFs.
It's why Twitter went into full-blown "Tom Brady got punked for re-working his deal!" mode in the aftermath of the Welker-to-Denver announcement. And even though we'll likely never get a straight answer from Brady, we can hazard a guess as to how he feels about all this.
CSN New England's Tom Curran tweeted this shortly after the news broke:
Spoke to someone close to Tom Brady. Beyond enraged at contract details that netted Broncos Wes Welker. "Disgrace""disservice" were used.— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) March 13, 2013
And a person close to Brady told Yahoo.com's Mike Silver, "He's got so much pressure on his shoulders now -- again. If the offense doesn't perform at a high level, they're screwed. This is unbelievable. It's hard not to feel like they've sold him out."
But hey, this is a business, right? Isn't that what we always say when teams part ways players who aren't franchise quarterbacks and future Hall of Famers? It's a situation with which Manning is familiar; last spring he was standing next to Colts owner Jim Irsay because Indianapolis -- where Manning had spent 14 mostly successful seasons -- had decided to go in another direction.
So with Welker on the market, Manning did what Manning does best: compete. CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote Tuesday afternoon that the Broncos' 37-year-old quarterback may not have put the contract in front of Welker, but "he was the impetus" to getting the deal done.
These sentiments were pretty much corroborated by team executive John Elway, who told the Denver Post: “I asked Peyton about (going after Welker) yesterday to make sure he was on board."
You don't say.
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Plus, as Freeman pointed out, Manning did the math and landing Welker would not only benefit the Broncos but also hurt the Patriots. (This was lost on Bill Belichick, who promptly went out and got a younger version of Welker in Danny Amendola.)
But there is collateral damage: one of Manning's closest friends, Brandon Stokley, who played in the slot last year and caught 45 passes (5 TDs). With Welker's arrival, it appears the 15-year vet will soon be out of a job. Even though Stokley was in favor of the move before it became official.
“I think it would be a great move if (the Broncos) got him," he said. "I think he would be a great fit here.”
And Stokley made those observations knowing full well the implications, right?
“I know that,” he said laughing. “I'm just talking about production. Look at what he's done the last six years. I've always thought he was underrated. You see these other receivers out there getting big money, I think Wes deserves what some of these guys are getting.”
Welker only got $12 million over two years, but he could be in line for something more important: a Super Bowl ring. And, yes, it would be with some irony if it took Peyton Manning to get him one.