Rapid reaction: Welker's deal

Rapid reaction from receiver Wes Welker agreeing to a two-year, $12 million contract with the Broncos:

The first thought is that it's hard to believe the Patriots wouldn't match those terms. To hear owner Robert Kraft say Monday that he hoped Welker would be a Patriot for life, then discover that the Broncos could swoop in and snatch Welker at those numbers, is a shock. The offer that the Patriots chose not to match seems more than reasonable.

So that leads us to the conclusion that the Patriots didn't view Welker as high a priority as once thought. Their words didn't match their actions.

This is a surprising end to Welker's terrific, six-year run with the team. There is no reason to think he can't develop the same type of rapport with Peyton Manning that he did with Tom Brady, as there are some similarities to how the Patriots and Broncos use their slot receiver.

As for Brady, one wonders what he is thinking at this time. After restructuring his contract to create more salary-cap space for the Patriots to build a better team around him, he's just lost his go-to receiver for a modest short-term contract.

Surely the Patriots have a plan, and their financial discipline has served them well in the past. They set a value on a player and don't often move off it, with the idea of building the most complete roster possible. But if you were to tell me that the Patriots would lose Welker to the Broncos on a two-year, $12 million deal at the start of free agency, I would have dismissed it.

The only conclusion to draw is that the Patriots, contrary to the words of their owner, didn't view Welker as a key piece to the puzzle after all.

And that, simply put, is stunning.