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Well, it didn’t take long for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots to replace wide receiver Wes Welker.
Within hours of Welker’s departure to the Denver Broncos on a two year, $12 million contract, the Patriots have reached a five year agreement with former St. Louis Rams receiver Danny Amendola, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal is for a reported $31 million, of which $10 million is guaranteed.
The signing is particularly intriguing because Amendola will earn the same annual salary as Welker over the length of the deal, meaning the Patriots essentially chose the younger Amendola over the NFL’s most productive pass catcher over the last few years. Amendola is 27 years old.
Last season, Amendola played in 11 games for the Rams, catching 63 passes for 666 yards and three touchdowns. He missed three of those weeks due to a dislocated collarbone that was actually life threatening. He also missed the entire 2011 season between a dislocated elbow and injured triceps. His career receiving numbers are 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns on 196 catches.
In 2009 and 2010, his first two seasons in St. Louis, Amendola also displayed some impressive return numbers on special teams, amassing 2,760 yards on kickoff returns and 812 yards on punt returns.
New England reportedly offered Welker a two year, $10 million contract with incentives, but apparently the hardball offer was the last straw for the 31-year-old receiver, who instead chose to play with another first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning, over Tom Brady. The Patriots also reportedly never countered Denver’s offer.
Considering their identical positions as slot receivers, similar abilities in the return game, and matching salaries, Welker and Amendola will be compared endlessly during the upcoming season. Let’s hope Belichick and the Patriots made the right choice.