EARTH CITY, Mo. - Faced with a four-game suspension for wide receiver Stedman Bailey as well as having continuing issues with third-down conversions, the St. Louis Rams signed wide receiver Wes Welker to a contract for the remainder of the 2015 season Monday.
According to NFL Network, the contract includes $700,000 in incentives based on playing time and receptions.
Said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, "He had a great workout this morning. He's really excited about where this team is going and I think he can potentially help us in a lot of different areas, specifically on third down and keeping the chains moving.
Welker played the last two seasons with the Denver Broncos and the previous six with the New England Patriots. In 12 NFL seasons, the 34 year old has 890 receptions for 9,822 yards and 50 touchdowns. However, after suffering two concussions in 2013 and one in the 2014 preseason, Welker was not offered a contract after becoming an unrestricted free agent in March. In 14 games for Denver last season, he had 49 catches for 464 yards and two touchdowns.
The signing, coincidentally, comes one day after a story on Welker was published on the CBS Boston website.
In the story, Welker told NFL Network his desire to continue playing. "The frustrating part sometimes is you look out there on the field and you see guys who are playing, and you're like, 'I should be playing,'" he said. "I love being at home with my kids, but at the same time, you have that itch and you're looking out there and seeing how you can fit in with this team or that and there's never really a perfect plan."
In June, he told a Boston-area radio show when asked about possibly retiring, "At times you're sitting there and thinking, 'Well maybe I should.' I think it's just people kind of (pressuring you), but the more you think about it, and you're away from it, I'm not ready to. I still feel good. I still feel like I have some really good football left in me. I've always said (I'll play) until the wheels fall off."
As for the concussion concerns, Welker told Denver's 9News in the spring that he had received a positive report after being examined by Dr. Stanley A. Herring, who is with the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee.
Welker said, "I knew there were concerns out there but on top of that I wanted to know for my own peace of mind. If there was something wrong, I wanted to know. The doctor said some people are able to take those hits. They get up and are able to come back from them. And there's some people who get them and they're never the same.
"For me, everything came out all good. My cognitive tests were good. All kinds of tests came out good. I had a trip to Miami and (their) doctors said everything looked good. I am 100 percent committed to keep playing. I feel like every day that goes by, the chances are less so. But I want to play. I've enjoyed my time away. I've enjoyed spending time with my wife. But I'm itching. I miss the locker room. I know once the season starts I'll be dying if I'm not playing."
Now, he gets his chance. Said Fisher, when asked about Welker not having been with a team since the end of last season, "He's in outstanding shape. We saw that early this morning. He's in great shape. He's anxious and eager to play. He's moved the chains for two potential Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks (Tom Brady and Peyton Manning) and he's good at what he does and he understands it. We already had a visit with him and (quarterback) Nick (Foles) and they're excited. Whether he's active this week, I can't predict because we have a short period of time to get him caught up. I think he'll eventually move some chains for us."