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As the Patriots slide into their bye week with a 7-2 record and with nine dysfunctional, injury prone weeks of the NFL season behind us, it is time for some reflection. The Patriots offense has not looked like the powerhouse it was once and even Brady has had his fair share of struggles. The young receiving core has been inconsistent but slowly making some progress. Luckily, Rob Gronkowski is back to provide some spark and reliability to the offense.
One receiver that was supposed to have a much bigger impact on this offense was Danny Amendola, who the Patriots signed this off-season. Amendola has been relatively quiet, spending most of days on the sidelines nursing his nagging injuries. This leads to the question: Has Amendola produced enough to prove he was worth signing in the off-season?
There are two reasons Amendola has not been worth signing so far this season. One is because he has spent more time on the sidelines than on the field due to injuries and two, because he is nothing like his predecessor, Wes Welker, who he was supposed to make us forgot about.
Over the off-season, Amendola signed a five-year, $31 million contract with the team. However, only $10 million is guaranteed along with a $6 million signing bonus. So has Amendola been worth the $2 million so far this season?
For the Patriots, who are so cheap when it comes to signing their players, yes. Even if Amendola plays in only half of the games this season, the Patriots added a clause in Amdendola’s contract that he can earn an additional $31,250 for each game he plays, smartly protecting themselves from his known struggles with injuries. In terms of the people who really matter, us the fans, Amendola has been nothing but a major disappointment and definitely not worth the signing, especially if he was supposed to replace our number one receiver from last year.
During the off-season, for some uncanny reason, the Patriots decided to part ways with their best receiver from last year, Wes Welker and replace him with Amendola. Even though Welker was essentially, and rightfully, asking for about the same amount of money Amendola would eventually come away with, the Patriots decided it would be in their best interest to let one of their most durable and proven players walk in exchange for an injury prone but younger receiver. How Welker must be laughing at the Patriots offense right now.
Amendola had some pretty big shoes to fill since he was supposed to be Welker’s replacement. To be fair to Amendola, many like myself, had already written him off just because of the fact he was here and Welker was out. So far, Amendola has been failing miserably to impress and his numbers pale in comparison when looking at what Welker is doing out in Denver.
Granted, I am a bit biased towards Welker (who am I kidding, a lot biased!) but the stats speak for themselves. In terms of games played, Welkers has started all 8 games for the Broncos but Amendola has only played in 5 out of 9 games. Welker already has 50 receptions for 555 yards, as opposed to Amendola, who only has 23 catches for 296 yards. A more telling number is Welker’s nine touchdowns compared to Amendola’s lone one. Yes, Amendola has played in less games than Welker so naturally his production will be less but the reason for this blaring difference is because of Amendola’s inability to stay healthy.
Even more important than the stats are the intangibles. Welker has not missed a single game all season and has built great chemistry with his quarterback. Welker has made his presence felt on the Denver offense, contributing especially in the redzone as evidenced by his nine touchdown receptions. Amedola on the other hand, has played in half of the team’s games this season due to, surprise surprise, injuries. Being on the sidelines eliminates any impact he can make on the team’s offense. He has not proven his durability or reliability to Brady or the fans. The inability to establish any type of momentum with the offense has been extremely frustrating to watch. It is hard to imagine that somehow Amendola will be able to magically stay healthy for the rest of the season and become a productive member of the Patriots offense.
What the Patriots should really do is get rid of Amendola in the off-season and do everything in their power to sign Larry Fitzgerald!