By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) Forget all the salary-cap concerns and his affiliation with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
No team would benefit more from signing Wes Welker than the Chicago Bears.
The Bears have the big, fast, down-the-field threat that Belichick wishes the Patriots had in Brandon Marshall.
Marshall (118 catches, 1,508 yards, 11 touchdowns) was basically the only receiving threat the Bears had in 2012.
If the Bears are going to have a chance to threaten the big boys in the NFC like Green Bay, Atlanta, San Francisco and the New York Giants (old habits die hard), they are going to need weapons.
Welker is a weapon. Perhaps the best weapon in the league. He is the most dependable receiver in the league because he gets open on every snap and he does not drop the ball.
Welker caught 118 passes last year and he has caught 111 passes or more in five of the last six seasons,
While it seems like Welker has been around forever, he is 31 and he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Welker has been a staple for Tom Brady and the Patriots since the 2007 season when Belichick traded a second- and seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for the receiver.
New England has not locked Welker up yet and that’s their problem. Welker could help a lot of teams, but none more than the Bears.
The NFL allows teams to start talking to free agents on Saturday and they can sign them on March 12.
Marc Trestman needs offensive options to succeed. The presence of Welker would give the Bears four big-time offensive options that would make them – dare we say – formidable.
Can you imagine Jay Cutler setting up his big plays to Marshall by hitting Welker with two straight completions that advances the ball 35 yards downfield? At that point, the defense has no idea what is coming next.
Cutler could throw the ball again to Welker, he could go up the seam to Marshall or he could hand the ball off or throw to Matt Forte.
The Bears brought in an offensive-minded head coach to create an attack that would befuddle opposing defenses. You confuse an opponent when you create legitimate offensive options.
The Bears have had many issues through the Lovie Smith era, and predictability on offense was one of them. They could put that problem behind them with the best possession receiver in the game.
That may be Welker’s overall category, but he gets yards after the catch and he is a real football player. At 5-9 and 190 pounds, Welker is solid enough to withstand the hit and he is quick enough to escape and gain yardage on his own.
He is the player who makes everyone better.
The Bears still have major issues on the offensive line and Phil Emery is going to have to address these as well, but having a receiver like Welker would help that unit out.
Not only does he get open, he does it quickly. The offensive line would not have to protect Cutler as long as it would when Welker is on the field. When you can find the open space as quickly as Welker can, it takes a huge burden off the blockers.
Financial sacrifices will have to be made to get a receiver of Welker’s quality on the team.
Those sacrifices may have to be made on the defensive side of the ball. Allowing Brian Urlacher to leave is one of those sacrifices.
Urlacher should not be on the field. He is not a viable player at this point in his career.
Urlacher may be loved and respected by his teammates, but he runs slowly and he no longer has lateral agility. Put one blocker in his way as he heads to the sideline and Urlacher is not a factor on the play.
That’s one example of how salary-cap room could be saved.
If Emery’s eyes are on the big prize, the road map is there. Bring Welker in and upgrade the offense. Then find the right offensive linemen in the draft.
Give the ball to Cutler and tell him that his opportunity has arrived.
That’s how the Bears can win in 2013.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.