For a 5'9, 185lb wide receiver, Wes Welker has accomplished a lot in his NFL career. Going undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2004, he had to fight tooth and nail to earn a spot on a pro roster.
After primarily being used as a special teams return guy with the San Diego Chargers, he finally saw some extended action in the offense of the Miami Dolphins, and it changed the course of his career.
Welker's performance in Miami garnered the interest of Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, and resulted in Welker being traded for a 2nd and 7th round pick. Teamed up with Tom Brady, Welker proceeded to rewrite the way the slot position was played in the NFL.
Welker was an integral part of the Patriots remarkable 2007 campaign that saw them set an all-time record for points scored. They also became the only NFL team to go 16-0 in the regular season, since the schedule was extended from 12 games back in 1978.
As Welker got older, a rift appeared between he and Belichick and when the Patriots decided not to bring him back, following the 2012 season, John Elway saw the value in the guy who is always open and signed him to a 2-year, $12M contract.
Welker immediately provided a return on that investment by catching 73 balls, for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns (career high), despite missing 3 games due to concussions in 2013. The Denver Broncos ended up breaking the Patriots previous record for single-season scoring, with 606 points. It's no coincidence that the two highest scoring teams in NFL history featured Welker in the slot.
Now in his 11th season, Welker has earned 5 Pro Bowl selections and 4 All-Pro honors. He recently passed the Broncos own Rod Smith for the most receptions in NFL history by an undrafted player.
There's just one thing missing from his illustrious resume; a Super Bowl title. Welker's had 3 opportunities to win the big one. Twice with the Patriots (2007 & 2011) and once with the Broncos (2013). But a Super Bowl ring has eluded him.
“I just want to win. I want to concentrate on winning and however that happens, is how it happens — if I catch seven, eight balls or if I catch one. I’ve caught a lot of balls over my career. I have one goal left and that’s to go win a Super Bowl. That’s where my mindset is at, helping our team do that.” - Wes Welker
Like Peyton Manning, the meticulous surgeon whose passes he now catches, Welker's only in it to win a Super Bowl. And he's risking a lot to do so. Just this past August, Welker sustained his 3rd concussion in about a 10-month period. Many wondered if he'd ever suit up again, but the feisty 5'9er from Texas Tech is driven. And being in the last year of his contract, he knows that 2014 could be his last shot.