Nearly a year after the Denver Broncos quietly stole Peyton Manning from the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers, the Broncos again stole a couple of big names off the market.
The big news, of course, is the signing of former New England Patriots star receiver Wes Welker. The underrated, underpaid slot receiver became a free agent after the Patriots refused to offer Welker a new deal last year and were late to the party this year. Instead, Welker will now garb the blue and orange catching passes not from Tom Brady but from Peyton Manning.
Welker makes the Broncos already scary offense even scarier. Paired with Damarius Thomas and Eric Decker, the Broncos may have one of, if not the most, formidable receiving corps in the NFL.
But, the Broncos did more than just sign Welker. On same day, Vice President of Football Operations John Elway inked deals with former San Diego Chargers offensive lineman Louis Vasquez, former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, and former Philadelphia Eagles conerback Dominique Rodger-Cromartie.
Although all signees are good moves for the Broncos, signing Welker and Vasquez stand out because of talent and because they come from key AFC rivals. Welker has been on the national stage for years because he caught passes from Brady. However, Welker made himself into the best slot receiver in the game.
Vasquez, on the other hand, plays at a position that rarely if ever receives attention. During his time with the Chargers, however, Vasquez proved to be one of the best guards in the game. He will solidify an already strong offensive line by giving the Broncos the best right side protection in the NFL by teaming up with right tackle Ryan Harris.
More importantly, these two signings not only make the Broncos stronger, but they weaken two AFC opponents. The Vasquez signing is a solid move that hits a division opponent hard on the front lines. The Chargers, though, have not been a true contender for a few years now. The Welker signing steals from the Patriots Brady’s favorite pass catcher. Welker has been a nightmare to cover and was a huge reason for the Patriots offensive success. Now he belongs to the Broncos.
While expectations for the Denver Broncos were high last season, many thought the Broncos would be good, but not Super Bowl contenders; they ended up being viable Super Bowl contenders. This year, the Broncos and the Patriots top most predictions to be Super Bowl champions.
Free agency is only two days in, the draft has not happened, and the offseason is still fresh, but odds on favorites for the Super Bowl championship have to lean toward the west. The Broncos have made smart moves by solidifying some offensive and defensive positions. There are still holes to fill; but, after only a few days in, the Broncos have the look and swagger of team on a mission.