New England Patriots Move Quickly to Replace Wes Welker
By Hal Bent
September 16, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola (16) celebrates after catching a one yard touchdown pass during the first half against the Washington Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Patriots wasted no time replacing former Texas Tech slot receiver Wes Welker with another former Texas Tech slot receiver in Danny Amendola. After Wes Welker took the Denver Bronco’s offer of 2 years and $12 million, the Patriots announced they had agreed to terms with the former Rams receiver on a 5 year, $31 million contract, with $10 million guaranteed. Basically, the Patriots front office made clear that the signs seen in September where the Patriots actively replaced Welker with slot receiver Julian Edelman in the offense were not a smoke screen or negotiating tactic; instead, the Patriots were ready to move on from the Wes Welker era in New England. By not offering Welker more than the $10 million they guaranteed for Amendola, the message was clear exactly what the price they were willing to pay for a slot receiver was going to be.
Danny Amendola is 4 years younger than Wes Welker and as he is turning 28 years old this season, he is in the prime of his career. When healthy, Amendola has been extremely effective and was in St. Louis while Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was in the same role there. However, Amendola has had numerous injuries over the past few seasons, and his one season with McDaniels injuries limited him to only one game. That one game must have done enough for McDaniels to buy into Amendola being the next weapon in the slot for Tom Brady as the Patriots have made no secret of the input that McDaniels has in personnel moves on the offensive side of the ball.
The Patriots also still have the option to bring back slot receiver Julian Edelman this offseason, and have potential backup slot receiver Jeremy Ebert who was a late round draft pick last season to provide depth in case of the injury bug biting Amendola again. If tight end Aaron Hernandez stays healthy, the Patriots will be able to let him, Amendola and/or Edelman loose over the middle of the field and continue to frustrate opposing defenses. Clearly, the Patriots front office had a clear plan for replacing Wes Welker, and have taken the first step toward turning the corner on the past and moving forward towards the 2013 season.