2013 NFL Free Agency Rumors: Wes Welker to the Buccaneers?

Chris Trotman

The biggest free agent come March 12 may be Wes Welker, the slot receiver who has terrorized NFL teams for years on end now. He'll be on the list for a number of teams looking for a very good slot receiver, and the Buccaneers don't have one of those right now. Tiquan Underwood was decent but not great last season, and there was evidence of a lot of miscommunication between him and Josh Freeman -- he looked like a very raw player. It wouldn't be hard to improve on Underwood, and Welker would certainly be an improvement.

That, at least, is what Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune thinks the Bucs should and will do. Here's what he said on WHNS-FM 98.7 with The Sports Babe, via JoeBucsFan.

"Here is something to think about: I think the guy they will target is Wes Welker as a slot receiver. That's the one thing they don't really have," Cummings said. "If they pitch Wes Welker as a slot receiver, a very dependable slot receiver, they can leave [Vincent] Jackson on the outside and leave Mike Williams on the outside and all of a sudden you have to worry about three very dynamic receivers on that offense."

This seems exceedingly unlikely, though, for a number of reasons. For one, the Buccaneers don't really have a separate slot receiver position. Their receivers line up all over the formation by design, and you'll frequently see Vincent Jackson in the slot. This is not a function of not having a good slot receiver, but a function of the offense: receivers need to be able to play everywhere.

Second, Wes Welker's strengths would fit poorly with Josh Freeman. Welker functions best when he's playing with a very accurate quarterback, who can get him the ball in space and in stride, on the run. Meanwhile, Josh Freeman has accuracy issues and is best with a receiver who has a wide catching radius and who can consistently make contested catches. That's exactly what Wes Welker does not do, and it's exactly what a big tight end could do.

Finally, there's the simple issue of money. The Bucs are already in talks with Mike Williams on a new contract, and Vincent Jackson is one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL already. Sinking more money into the receiver position would appear to be a poor long-term decision, especially so given the fact that Welker's 32 already, and investing big money in players over 30 is rarely a smart idea.

I would expect the Bucs to try to address the receiver position in some way, through the draft or free agency. But Welker seems like an exceptionally poor fit.

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