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Of all the undrafted NFL players who made a successful career for themselves, Wes Welker deserves to be near the top.

A diminutive slot receiver from Texas Tech, Welker ended his career with the most receptions by an undrafted player. In his prime years with the New England Patriots, the three-time AFC champion was one of the league’s best receivers and a threat both on the field and in fantasy football.

So, where is Welker now? Just how good was the Patriots legend in his heyday? Let’s take a look.

Wes Welker excelled with the New England Patriots

The dynamic duo of Tom Brady and Randy Moss seems to be the one people recall from the late 2000s Patriots. There is no denying that Brady and Moss were excellent together, as Moss caught an NFL-record 23 touchdowns in 2007. However, that partnership only lasted two-plus seasons when considering Brady’s missed 2008 season.

Brady and Wes Welker, on the other hand, had five full seasons together and made the most of them. Welker was named to five Pro Bowls and made two All-Pro teams in New England from 2007-12.

A playmaking slot receiver who could turn any pass into a first down, Welker caught 672 passes for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns in his time with the Patriots. When Patriots coach Bill Belichick‘s history of turning capable players into difference-makers, Welker should be the first to come to mind.

Welker started his career as a special teams player in San Diego and Miami before climbing the receiver depth chart. When Miami only offered Welker a second-round tender, New England sent its second-round pick and seventh-round selection to acquire the 5-foot-9 receiver. From there, the undrafted Welker quickly built a Hall of Fame resume in Massachusetts.

Injuries cut short Wes Welker’s productive career

When Welker and the New England Patriots couldn’t agree to terms on a new contract, Welker traded one future Hall of Fame quarterback for another. Instead of catching passes from Tom Brady, Welker became Peyton Manning’s new slot receiver on the Denver Broncos. The Manning-Welker duo quickly became a dangerous one. Welker had nine receiving touchdowns by Week 11 of the 2013 season.

Unfortunately, his successful start to his Broncos career wouldn’t last long. Welker was concussed in a Week 11 game against the Kansas City Chiefs and took a hit to the head later that season. Although Welker returned for the playoffs and caught eight passes for 84 yards in Denver’s Super Bowl loss to Seattle, he suffered another concussion in August 2014. While recovering from the concussion, Welker was suspended four games after failing a drug test.

Welker finished the 2014 season with 49 catches for 464 yards and two touchdowns. It was clear that the then-33-year-old was nearing the end of his career. Welker played eight games for the St. Louis Rams and caught 13 passes off the bench before he retired.

Welker is now a rising NFL coach

With his playing career over, Wes Welker decided to stay in football by joining the coaching ranks. Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien hired Welker as an offensive assistant and special teams assistant in January 2017. Welker spent two years in Houston under O’Brien, who’d been his wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator in New England.

From 2019-21, Welker served as the San Francisco 49ers wide receivers coach.

Then, in February 2022, he followed head coach Mike McDaniel to the Miami Dolphins, where Welker now serves as the wide receivers coach. For the 2022-23 season, the Dolphins earned their first playoff berth since 2016, ending the season with a 9-8 record.

In addition to his coaching duties, Welker participates in the Wes Welker Foundation, a nonprofit that benefits at-risk youth in Oklahoma City, the retired athlete’s hometown.

Welker is married to former model Anna Burns, and they have three children.


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