New England Patriots: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Wes Welker, New England Patriots
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(2007-12). Wes Welker. 13. player. 47. . WR

  • 5x Pro Bowl (2008-12)
  • 3x NFL receptions leader (2007, 2009, 2011)
  • 2x First-Team All-Pro (2009, 2011)
  • 2x Second-Team All-Pro (2007-08)

It seems like just yesterday that slot receiver Wes Welker was catching everything under the sun from Tom Brady as the best part of the New England aerial attack. While Welker did play other places in the NFL, his potential Pro Football Hall of Fame legacy is defined by his time with New England.

Welker initially went undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2004. At only 5-foot-9, 190 pounds and playing in an Air Raid offense at Texas Tech that up to that point had not effectively translated to the professional level, it wasn’t all that hard for NFL teams to overlook Welker’s pass-catching ability.

Welker spent his first three NFL seasons from 2004 to 2006 split between the San Diego Chargers and the Miami Dolphins. Frankly, he was just a decent tertiary receiver for the Dolphins before arriving in Foxborough in 2007. That’s when Welker redefined what it means to be an elite Pro Bowl pass catcher in the NFL.

Welker would lead the NFL in receptions three different seasons as a member with the Patriots in 2007, 2009 and 2011. Nobody caught more balls on that vaunted 2007 Patriots offense than Welker did with 112. He made five-straight trips to the Pro Bowl from 2008 to 2012. Welker earned four All-Pro designations in his New England career, two first-teams and two second teams.

Honestly, Welker did just about everything in his New England career short of winning a Super Bowl. Though he played in three Super Bowls in his NFL career (two with the Patriots and one with the Denver Broncos), Welker never got to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in his prestigious NFL career.

Welker would leave the Patriots after six outstanding seasons in 2013 to play for Denver. Though his production dropped off a bit, he was a reliable target for his new star quarterback Peyton Manning in the slot. Welker played one last forgettable season with the 2015 St. Louis Rams before retiring at the age of 34.

Concussions unfortunately did bring an end to Welker’s career, but let’s just look at his body of work to see if he does merit Canton consideration. Welker amassed 903 receptions for 9,924 yards and 50 touchdowns in his 12-year NFL career with five teams. That might be too hard to overlook for a guy that was never a vertical threat by any stretch of the imagination.

Though not as talented as Rob Gronkowski or Randy Moss, Welker might be the most productive receiver in New England history. He paved the way for guys like Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman to thrive in the slot for the Patriots. Without Welker, Brady may not be considered one of the most precise passers in NFL history. Welker changed the game at wide receiver and should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.