The Broncos are in serious talks to sign receiver Wes Welker away from the Patriots, two league sources said Wednesday, confirming a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.
One of the sources said a deal between Welker and the Broncos was "very likely."
As recently as the combine, Broncos sources said they would not in the bidding for Welker because at least some influential members of the front office didn't see him as a perfect fit because they wanted to get better at tight end first. And there was no interest in Welker from the Broncos on the first day of free agency.
But that changed Wednesday. Not only are the Broncos interested, they're pushing hard for a deal by the end of the day.
The Broncos very well could have been keeping their real interest in Welker quiet -- the majority opinion in the Broncos front office was that Welker was a terrific fit for their team -- in an effort to trick the Patriots into thinking there was no market for Welker, and then stealing him from them.
It may have worked perfectly. After the Welker camp and the Patriots spent considerable time making nice to each other and talking about a future together from the end of the season until the week before free agency, the reality is that when a contract offer did come from the Patriots, it was well below where the sides had been last year and very likely insulted Welker. The offer read like the Patriots thought there was no market for Welker, and that they'd at least have a chance to match. That may or may not happen.
After the Patriots made their offer to Welker, that's when the Broncos, who previously showed no interest, pounced, and it might end up being a huge coup. It takes Tom Brady's most trusted receiver away, and gives Peyton Manning the type of reliable slot receiver he's been lacking to go along with weapons in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.