The wait for Wes Welker to find work is over.
With Rams’ wide receiver Stedman Bailey being suspended for four games for substance abuse, and following a workout which included a physical, St. Louis signed the 12-year veteran to a one-year deal worth $1.8 million.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport stated that Welker’s one-year deal allows him to earn, along with his base salary, up to $700K in incentives, based on playing time and catches, per a source involved with the negotiations with the deal.
Bailey, who was drafted in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, has struggled this season, with only 12 receptions, 182 yards and a touchdown in eight games. But he isn’t alone, as the entire Rams receiving corps (save for Tavon Austin) are struggling. In fact, Austin is the only Rams wide receiver this year with 20 or more catches, even though he is second in yards to Kenny Britt.
Welker, 34, who is primarily a slot receiver, went undrafted in 2004, and later became a member of the Miami Dolphins following a short stint with the San Diego Chargers. During his first year with the Dolphins, he was primarily a special teams player, but made history when he became the second player in NFL history to return a kickoff and a punt, kick an extra point and a field goal, and make a tackle in a single game.
That moment occurred against a team he’d later join in 2007: the New England Patriots.
He was traded to the Patriots in exchange for a second and seventh round pick.
For the next six seasons, Welker became a vital member of the feared New England Patriots game led by Tom Brady. He accumulated 672 receptions for 7459 yards along with 37 touchdowns from 2007-12. In both his first and last season in New England, the Patriots made the Super Bowl, but were defeated both times by the New York Giants.
He eventually signed with the Denver Broncos, signing a two-year, $12 million deal. This placed him on the same team with another top NFL quarterback in Peyton Manning. However, despite having a great debut season, Welker suffered two head injuries (one in the neck, and the other being a concussion) which caused him to miss the remainder of 2013.
Welker suffered another concussion in 2014 during the third preseason game against the Houston Texans, and later failed a drug test, which resulted in being suspended by the NFL, although it was eventually lifted.
In two seasons with the Broncos, Welker caught 122 passes for 1242 yards and 12 touchdowns, but was not brought back for the 2015 season. Rams coach Jeff Fisher has also made it clear that the team is aware of Welker’s injury history and looks forward to seeing what the veteran can do on the field.
“We’ve done physicals, we’ve done everything,” Fisher said Monday of Welker, in which he added: “I think he’ll eventually move some chains for us.”
The Rams play the Chicago Bears Sunday at 12:00 CST on CBS.