Peyton Manning has stolen Tom Brady's favourite target, after the Denver Broncos signed wide receiver Wes Welker in free agency. The news of the deal has been confirmed by NFL.com.
Manning hasn't had enjoyed many victories over his great rival. However, now he'll spend 2013 combining with the man who caught over 100 passes in four different seasons from Brady. That has to be satisfying.
More than a morale victoy in a lengthy rivalry, signing Welker boosts the Broncos chances of dominating the AFC. Although the 31-year-old isn't quite the force he was, Welker is still a master at getting open from the slot.
He is still sure-handed and nimle-footed and few receivers can match Welker's precise, intelligent route running. His very specific skills are exactly what Manning and his passing game needs.
The veteran quarterback already has a host of weapons able to stretch the field vertically. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are both capable deep threats. Tight ends Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme proved to be useful goal-line targets.
What Manning needs is a receiver who is prolific across the middle in between the 20-yard lines. Nobody fits that profile better than Welker. His initial quickness and diminutive frame, make Welker a difficult matchup for any inside coverage. He also has a deadly instinct for the open areas in the underneath zones.
Manning hasn't always been a steady medium-range passer. His game has usually been defined by precision, vertical strikes. However, he's now 36 and one season removed from the multiple neck surgeries that sidelined him for the 2011 campaign.
There was some evidence last season that Manning's arm strength has diminished. His deep pass seemed to falter at times, particularly in the AFC Divisional Playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens.
Welker is the perfect receiver for Manning if his arm isn't what it was. His addition could see the Broncos' pass attack become mores short-ranged in 2013.
Either way, Welker joining forces with Manning has certainly weakened the New England Patriots and probably hasn't pleased Brady too much either.
So in other words, the Broncos signing Welker is a win-win for Manning.