Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
Tom Brady’s former favorite target received cheers during introductions in his initial return to Gillette Stadium on Nov. 24. During the game, Welker was booed when he touched the ball, and cheered when he muffed a punt.
The biggest offseason loss for the Patriots in 2013 was Welker. Acquired from the Dolphins in 2007, Welker was the most reliable option for Brady and earned a reputation as “automatic.”
Welker caught more than 100 passes in five of the six seasons he spent in New England, was named to five Pro Bowls, and racked up almost 7,500 yards receiving and 37 touchdowns. Welker also set the Patriots’ career record for receptions.
The end of Welker’s tenure in New England, however, was not as smooth as his catching ability. After a dropped pass on third down that arguably cost the Patriots the Super Bowl in 2012, Welker and the Patriots could not agree to a long-term extension, with the Patriots instead placing the franchise tag on him for the 2012 season.
After playing out the one year franchise tag, Welker opted for free agency, and, in a seemingly unthinkable turn of events, Welker decided to leave New England and sign a two-year, $12 million deal with the Denver Bronocs, with speculation suggesting that he took less money to leave the Patriots after he decided he did not want to play for New England anymore.
Welker is remains one of the top receivers in the NFL, catching nine touchdown passes from likely future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning so far.