Reports surfaced earlier Wednesday that the Patriots and Welker were "miles apart" on a new contract before free agency opened on Tuesday, and that Welker would test the open market.
If Welker does sign with the Broncos, he'll join an offense led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Welker would replace Brandon Stokley as Denver's slot receiver, and would join a receiving corps led by Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, forming perhaps the most potent wide receiver trio in all of football.
New England's front office typically plays hardball with its free agents, assigning a specific value to a player and rarely elevating its offer. Welker hoped to be an exception, but the Patriots have held firm, and consequently, appear poised to lose Welker to an AFC rival.
Since joining the Patriots in 2007, Welker has been one of the NFL's most productive receivers, with 672 receptions, 7,459 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns in six seasons. Welker helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl in 2007 and 2011, but fell short of winning both titles.
Described as the "heart and soul" of the Patriots by Tom Brady, losing Welker could be a huge detriment to New England's offense.