Free agency rumor today is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will “eye” WR Wes Welker hard. Welker to the Bucs is a strong, legit possibility considering the Bucs have plenty of room in the cap space to offer Welker the kind of contract he wants. Buccaneers have 30.1 million in cap space available to them to play with. Tampa Bay was big players in free agency last year, signing Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and Dallas Clark. “That has actually opened a lot of cap room for us going into 2013 — a tremendous amount,” Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said. “We’ve got a chance to be heavily involved in free agency again.”
If Welker left New England and signed with the Buccaneers would it be a fit? I could see it being a fit to some extent because of the presence of Vincent Jackson and the other deep threat at wide out, Mike Williams. Welker could benefit from teams giving Jackson extra attention, allowing Welker to rack up his catches and yards, or Williams might benefit the most, if attention is given to both Jackson and Welker. Williams benefited from the attention last season giving to Jackson, so if there was a slot WR teams would have to defend against then Williams might have a monster season. Welker, though, would get his catches with the Buccaneers because of the weapons that are already in place there, and so Welker would actually make a good fit for the Buccaneers, and Williams, and Jackson would welcome his company to the team too.
Now the down side is if teams focus on stopping Williams and Jackson then Tampa Bay would have to rely on QB Josh Freeman to throw passes to Welker all the way up the field without making a mistake. Tom Brady could throw those 5-10 yard passes to Welker all the way up the field on 80, 90, 95 yard drives because Brady is a great, great QB. Freeman is not in his league, not yet anyway. Freeman would have to throw short passes to Welker up the field on a consistent bases, which would not allow for a lot of TDs and points because of the time it would take to methodically, and slowly go up the field. Freeman will have to learn to master the slow, methodical, short plays up the field with a guy like Welker in a game where Jackson and Williams are taken away.
When Wes Welker was catching 10+ passes in a game for New England, getting at least 100+ yards, because Gronkowski and Hernandez had been taken away from the game plan by the defenses, then New England usually did not score a lot of points, or TDs. The reason is because Welker is usually a 5-10 yard chain mover, and it takes longer to move the ball up the field, and it also up’s the chances for turnovers and mistakes to happen. Welker is one of the best slot WR in the game, but don’t mistake him for a play maker who takes the top off defenses. He can be problem for defenses and cause match up problems, but the thing he does best is move the chains, not bust 50 yard TDs. New England can handle that because they have Tom Brady, but for a QB like Josh Freeman it would tougher because he needs to score quicker with big plays to his big wideouts.
Welker is a good fit for Tampa Bay because they have the money to offer and because they have two legit deep threats that will open up the passing game for Wes Welker. Welker catches would still be high if he was able to go to a team like the Buccaneers, but don’t expect it to be New England high in catches though.
I expect Tampa Bay to go after Wes Welker, depending on how bad they want him, I expect them to offer him a high contract.