Think Peyton Manning was excited to steal Tom Brady‘s kicker? Well, he’s pretty happy he got his slot receiver this time around, too.
Manning was in the improbable role of Patriot-poacher on Wednesday when Wes Welker agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with the Broncos that few people saw coming. While Denver was reportedly constrained in how much it could offer Welker, with the team having bigger needs, especially at tight end, the chance of getting Welker was just too good for the Broncos to pass up, according to reports.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com says Manning had a role in getting the Broncos to woo Welker.
“What I’m told Manning believed was this: Not only do you add a 100-plus-catch guy with Welker, but the Broncos also take away Tom Brady’s favorite weapon,” Freeman writes. “Manning may deny had any say, but he did influence this move.”
Mike Klis of The Denver Post says executive vice president of football operations John Elway checked with Manning before pulling off the deal.
“I asked Peyton about it yesterday to make sure he was on board,” Elway said.
Manning and other Broncos players also called Welker on Elway’s request, according to Klis.
It was a bitter pill for Patriots fans when hero kicker Adam Vinatieri joined the Manning-led Indianapolis Colts in 2006, and this one will be rough for New Englanders, too, as the Pats and Broncos have quickly formed a new rivalry with Manning in the AFC West.