With all of the recent speculation surrounding the possibility of the Patriots trading for Percy Harvin, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Harvin to the Patriots all but guarantees the end of Wes Welker's tenure in New England. And should Wes Welker head elsewhere, then the harsh reality is that he'll be playing for another team come September. It's a lot like breaking up with a girlfriend, isn't it? You may know it's for the best, but just thinking about her going out with another guy is enough to make you want to sit in the basement and just hydrate yourself into oblivion.
Although maybe that's just me.
Regardless, it's high time that we start to prepare ourselves for the thought of one of the All-Time Great Patriots finishing his career elsewhere. It still may very well not happen, but there are certainly no guarantees. And as much as I'd like to see Welker play for a team that I don't care about in the slightest - like the Detroit Lions - where I can just relax and root for Welker to do well, I know that that isn't the way the football gods operate. Odds are that if Welker goes elsewhere, he will go somewhere that makes my stomach drop just thinking about it.
However, I tried to take my own personal biases out of the equation when thinking about where Wes might end up if not with New England, and this is what I came up with. I don't really have anything to base this list on, other than where I think he would be a good fit and what teams could really benefit from his services. I also took into account the fact that he's 32 and would likely prefer to go to a legit contender, which eliminates the rest of the AFC East. At the end of the day, you could make a case for pretty much any team taking Welker on, but what follows is just my own personal opinion.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have plenty of cap space and two very good receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams; the addition of Welker would provide a tremendous boost to the offense and offer a great safety net for the inconsistent Josh Freeman. Plus, adding Welker would give Tampa Bay a very strong stranglehold on the tough little guy market; all they would need to do is poach Danny Woodhead away from New England to supplelment Doug Martin and their takeover would be complete. I actually like the Bucs, so I'd be very happy to see this move happen.
Dallas Cowboys. I'd make some remark about cap space, but when it comes to the Cowboys, it never seems to matter. If Jerry Jones decides he wants Welker, he'll clear up the space to get him. Dallas has a lot of decisions to make over the next few years, but 2013 is the last year of Tony Romo's contract, which means it may be time to surround him with as much talent as possible to see if his recent struggles really are on him or more on his supporting cast. I'm not sure how well Welker would fare under Bill Callahan's offense, but he certainly represents an upgrade from Kevin Ogletree. I don't necessarily hate the Cowboys, but I'm not crazy about them either. They are kind of like the stewed turnips that you see at most Thanksgiving dinners: you always seem to take it if it's there, but more often than not it ends up just congealing on your plate. So there are worse places for him to end up.
Houston Texans. One of the things that hurt Houston down the stretch was that their only real option over the middle was Owen Daniels; adding Welker to the lineup would give the Texans the extra weapon that they would need to potentially take them to a Super Bowl. It's a bit of a long shot, as the Texans are only about $13 million under the cap with plenty of in-house issues to address, but in terms of pure fit, it makes sense. I didn't really start even thinking about the Texans until this past season, but I'm liking them less and less as they get better and better. Them getting Welker would certainly speed up their meteoric rise towards the top of my list.
Baltimore Ravens. For no other reason than to keep him safe from Bernard Pollard. Although odds are that Pollard will go up against Welker in training camp and rupture his spleen on a standard crossing route.
Denver Broncos. How awful would this be? First Adam Vinatieri, and now Wes Welker. But as much as I would hate to see this, the Broncos would be a fantastic fit for Welker. They have an effective running game, a legit deep threat to take the top off the defense, strong tight ends, and an effective WR2 in Eric Decker - not to mention a pretty good quarterback under center. Welker would likely pick up the Broncos offense relatively quickly and would make an already potent offense incredibly dangerous. And with over $18 million in cap space, they can afford to bring Welker in should they want to. And since this is the absolute worst case scenario for me, it's probably the one that's going to play out. I swear to God, though...if both Wes Welker and Adam Vinatieri go directly from the Patriots to Peyton Manning-led teams and help him win a Super Bowl...