Would the Browns consider signing Wes Welker?
With free agency starting next week in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns have an opportunity to start filling some important holes on the roster.
And while the defense would appear to be the primary area to focus on, when you are coming off yet another 5-11 season there are plenty of areas that could use help on both sides of the ball.
Which brings us to New England wide receiver Wes Welker.
Welker will reportedly check out what his true value is in free agency rather than simply resign with the Patriots, and while it seems unlikely that he would leave New England and Tom Brady (although Welker reportedly has “mild disdain” for the Patriots, whatever that means), if Welker is willing to listen then it may be worth the Browns time to give him a call.
We hadn’t really thought about Welker as an option in free agency for the Browns until Bob Papa and Russ Tucker started talking about him this morning on Sirius NFL Radio.
While Welker will turn 32 before the start of the 2013 NFL season, the numbers he has put up the past few years are somewhat ridiculous. In six years with the Patriots, he’s averaged 112 receptions, 1,243 yards and six touchdowns per year. His 672 receptions are the most of any receiver over the past six years and the highest total in NFL history over a six-year span. He is also No. 2 in Pro Football Focus’ ranking of free agents at the wide receiver position.
Not bad for a player that many fans think is just a system guy who benefits solely from playing with Brady.
During that same time frame, the Browns have not had a receiver catch more than 80 passes in a single season, have only had one receiver total more yards in a season and catch more than five touchdowns in a single year (all Braylon Edwards in 2007). So it’s clear that the Browns can’t afford to turn their back on the kind of production that Welker is able to deliver.
Welker is about as reliable as you can get from the slot position and, coming from New England, probably knows the importance or running a five-yard pass pattern on third-and-four (something that quarterback Brandon Weeden would certainly approve of). Plus, it would be hard to come up with a better veteran to teach Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin just what it means to play wide receiver at the NFL level.
Of course, we don’t know if Welker would even consider the Browns or if he wants to play in the AFC North (something we are going to try and touch on later this week). If he were to leave New England, it would seem likely that he would want to go to a team ready to win now rather than one that is in the beginning stages of yet another rebuild. It’s not a stretch to think of him joining Peyton Manning in Denver or perhaps Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.
As for the money, Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe, who is three years younger than Welker, resigned with the Chiefs for a little more than $11 million per year. If the Browns were to offer Welker a three-year deal for say, an average of $9 million a year, with a large chunk of it guaranteed, would he consider it? That doesn’t seem like too much of a risk on the part of the Browns and there is always the possibility that, if the Patriots let Welker go, this is the one time that Bill Belichick got rid of a player too early, rather than too late.
Signing an aging veteran like Welker would go against Joe Banner’s philosophy of bringing in younger players through free agency, but if the Browns are serious about giving Weeden “the best chance to succeed,” then Welker may be the type of player worth breaking a few rules for.
(Photo by USA Today)
“it would be hard to come up with a better veteran to teach Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin just what it means to play wide receiver at the NFL level.” <—— THIS! Sure, the Browns could use him in the slot and on 3rd downs & he could be Weeden's security blanket, but what a mentor he could be for Little & Gordon on how to run tight patterns and be a pro receiver. I would love this move.