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Wes Welker's suspension is nearly over; Broncos receiver eligible to return

Wes Welker's four-game suspension is expected to be over soon thanks to a new NFL drug deal.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Update: The league is now haggling whether reinstated players would be able to play as soon as this Sunday, even though multiple outlets including earlier reported that they would be. This is a "significant unresolved issue," NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello told ESPN's Chris Mortensen late Friday.

So Welker may not be reinstated for the Chiefs game anyway. Get out of the way, lawyers, and let's play football. Original story below.

Wes Welker is free to play.

But should he?

Welker's four-game suspension for violating the league's Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) policy will soon be a no-game suspension and a warning for violating the league's Substance Abuse policy, the NFL and NFLPA are expected to announce Saturday. Welker is among over a dozen players whose suspensions will be impacted by the league's new overhauled drug policy.

After some uncertainty earlier Friday, all 32 team reps voted in unanimous approval for the policy. The NFL's approval of the policy and Welker's subsequent reinstatement are now considered a formality, with multiple media outlets reporting Welker will be eligible this weekend.

The policy moves Welker's offseason positive test for amphetamines into the substance abuse program. First-time offenses for substance abuse violations receive a warning instead of an instant four-game ban, and the terms of the deal make them retroactive from the start of the league year (March 2014).

Welker was suspended for allegedly taking Molly at the Kentucky Derby, though those close to the Broncos have reported the violating substance was in fact Adderall.

Welker has been cleared to play following his concussion in Week 3 of the preseason, but has only practiced once in the last month - on Labor Day, on a limited basis.

Both Adam Gase and John Fox were noncommittal on whether they'd play Welker this week should he be reinstated. But Welker is a savvy veteran who probably doesn't need a week of practice to be on the same page with Peyton Manning in the red zone. Should the Broncos play an under-practiced, under-prepared Welker this week or wait until Week 3?