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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Danny Amendola Is No Wes Welker, That Much I Know

I have hardly ever feel like this but today was truly an awful day to be a Patriots fan. First, Wes Welker signed a two-year deal worth just $12 million with the Denver Broncos this afternoon. Then tonight, the Patriots made the obvious move which people had predicted for months should Welker leave in free agency: they signed his less talented and more injury-prone replacement Danny Amendola to a five-year deal worth $31 million ($10 million guaranteed). Ugh.

Last season, Welker had 118 catches for 1354 yards and six touchdowns while Amendola had 63 catches for 666 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games for the Rams. New England clearly valued other numbers over the mismatch in production last season and in their careers. Welker is 33 and heading into his ninth year in the NFL. Amendola is 27 and about to start his fifth NFL season.

I rarely get emotional about any professional athletes but Welker is a special case. He was the ultimate underdog who was undersized and virtually unknown before he came to New England in 2007 that morphed into the best slot receiver in the NFL that built insane chemistry with Tom Brady. Oh and he played through God only knows how many concussions, returned way earlier than expected after blowing out his knee and never showed an ounce of diva receiver tendencies. The NFL is a business but give me a break, if anyone deserved to get paid by the Patriots it was this guy. But nope, they low-balled him like you read about and let him go to one of their biggest rivals, who now becomes the AFC favorite in 2013.

This feels like a stupid move that the Red Sox would make after Carmine and Bill James poured over useless numbers for months. Sure, Welker and Amendola might have plenty in common on the surface: white, undersized, short, undrafted slot receivers that went to Texas Tech but that's pretty much where the similarities end. Since 2009 when he entered the league, Amendola has missed 23 games while Welker missed three in that span. Plus, he's never been on a good team, played with a decent quarterback or in an intense market where all eyes will be on him. Yeesh, I want to give him a chance but it's clear that Amendola is already fighting an uphill battle since he'll always be (unfairly) compared to Welker.

The best we can hope is that this is just the beginning of many significant offseason moves for the Pats. Otherwise, why did Brady leave money on the table and redo his deal? We haven't even talked about their defense which was the major issue before hand. Sure Brady might have relied on Welker too much in certain situations and his two drops that everyone remembers in the playoffs were unforgivable but now we have to pin our hopes on Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Amendola and whatever other schmuck receiver (Brandon Lloyd, Greg Jennings?) that they throw out there. Hernandez and Gronkowski are special but they also get hurt at an alarming rate.

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