Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker will be suspended the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug (PED) policy, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Filed to ESPN: Broncos WR Wes Welker has been suspended four games for use of amphetamines, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 2, 2014
A positive test for any substance in the NFL's PED program results in an automatic four-game suspension, even for a first-time offense. MHR first heard about Welker's potential suspension last week, but could not confirm the rumor. We have heard that Welker might not have known he ingested an illegal substance at the time. However, a player does not have to knowingly take the banned substance, per the leagues' PED policy; each player is responsible for what he puts in his body.
ProFootballTalk reports that Welker tested positive for taking a Molly during the Kentucky Derby laced with amphetamines, citing a source.
Welker, 33, is Denver's starting slot receiver, one of Peyton Manning's favorite targets, and a key component to Denver's record-setting offense from a year ago. In 2013, Welker caught 73 passes (110 targets) for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is expected to play a major role in what many see as a Super Bowl season for the Broncos in 2014.
This is the second Broncos suspension to be announced in the last week. Matt Prater, the Broncos' record-setting kicker, will miss the first four games of the 2014 season with a suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Welker suffered his third concussion with the Broncos a week ago against Houston. He was cleared to fly to Dallas and exercise on the field before the Broncos' fourth preseason game and had been cleared to practice this week.
While we're all extremely disappointed by this, the silver lining to this suspension is that this gives the injured Welker over four weeks to rest, without fear of suffering yet another concussion.