Amendola Signing Suggests Long-Term Vision

Can Danny Amendola pick up where Wes Welker left off? (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones

Although New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently reiterated his interest in retaining wide receiver Wes Welker in free agency, Welker has officially left the club in favor of a two-year deal with the Denver Broncos worth a fully-guaranteed $12 million. He will join Demariyus Thomas and Eric Decker in Peyton Manning’s intriguing stable of targets.

Not long after Welker departed, the Patriots secured his successor, agreeing to terms with wide receiver Danny Amendola, formerly of the St. Louis Rams, on a five-year, $31 million deal with $10 million in guaranteed money. Read on to find out what this means for the Patriots in 2013 and beyond.

Welker’s chemistry with Brady was outstanding, so from a short-term perspective the Patriots may be negatively impacted by his loss. Welker caught 134 passes out of a staggering 191 targets this season (including his 16/25 receiving over New England’s two playoff games), both of which are figures that Amendola has yet to approach thus far in any individual season. It remains to be seen whether the Patriots plan on trying to directly replace Welker with Amendola, or if they will favor their running game and tight ends more heavily in the future.

Based on what New England has invested in Amendola, the former option appears more likely. Had New England planned on evolving their offensive philosophy to compensate for losing Welker, they could have opted for a player such as Julian Edelman or former Cleveland Browns receiver Joshua Cribbs as an auxiliary component of the offense. Instead, they have committed to Amendola for an average of $6.2 million per season, suggesting that he will assume a highly visible role in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ aerial attack.

Amendola should be asked to execute the same option routes Welker mastered during his time with the team; the former St. Louis Rams receiver’s experience under Josh McDaniels should help ease the post-Welker transition. He is similarly productive in the short-to-intermediate range, and offers a more reliable, sure-handed target for Brady over the middle. In 2012, he dropped just two of his 95 targets, compared to Welker’s nineteen drops.

Obviously, durability is a concern with Amendola, as he has missed a significant amount of time over the past two seasons; Amendola’s previous injuries inject a measure of risk into New England’s strategy. Amendola has played in just twelve games over the past two seasons, and the prospect of being without Amendola for a playoff run must be considered.

Losing Welker to Denver is painful, but the Patriots managed to alleviate the blow by making a reasonable long-term investment in a young player who can prevent Josh McDaniels from having to reconfigure the offense to compensate for Welker’s absence. Today’s moves may not have separated New England from the pack – the Broncos have certainly gained ground – but the Patriots’ decision to pay Amendola over Welker indicates that the team plans to keep the championship window open for years to come.

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20 Responses to “Amendola Signing Suggests Long-Term Vision”

  1. Jim R says:

    Comcast is reporting that Amendola was signed on tuesday! Matt have you heard that? That would put an interesting spin on all of this

  2. td says:

    My thoughts on the exchange of slot receivers:

    1 BB wants to get younger on offense,
    2 has been pulling hair out over Welker’s drops,
    3 wants Brady to throw more downfield.

    Amendola needs to stay healthy, that’s all. Otherwise it makes no sense at all because Wes was going to be $5-6mil/year cap hit while Amendola would be $6.2. Cut him and the next year all the guaranteed is escalated into one year; could be $8mil if cut before year 2.

    • brian says:

      Could also be $31m for five years of elite production. I’m betting it will be a lot closer to the best case scenario than the worst, but hey, that’s why they play the game.

  3. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    Lets not forget Welker chose to sign with another play-off team, for aprox. 1 mil. a year more than the Patriots offered. This is the team that devolped welker into the player he is today over the last 5 years, and paid him 9 mil. last year, so where is the loyality Wes??
    This is a wake-up call to all the Patriot players, BB cares about you AND the Team, BUT don’t forget, why your a Patriot, and where this team has taken you.

  4. DaveM says:

    The Pats just paid the same price to replace a Mercedes with a Kia, dumb move. Three quarters of the Pats receiver core are now injury prone players.

    • PatsFanInCO says:

      It’s funny that Welker is not seen as “injury-prone” even though he tore his ACL just a few years ago. It’s like it never happened, just because it came at the end of the season and he was able to recover for the next season. If he’d torn it in the first game of that season and missed 16 games plus playoffs, would he be seen as “injury-prone”?

      • AM says:

        He isn’t seen as injury-prone because he almost never misses games due to injury, whereas Amendola is seen as injury-prone because he has missed a lot of games due to injury. Sure, timing factors in, but facts are facts.

  5. patsfan says:

    I think overall it is a good mood if he can stay healthy and if we continue to make moves to make the WR corps better. An outside threat (someone that is actually a threat not just some guy off the street) and 2 healthy TEs will mask a lot of what is lost. Also, they need to start pulling the trigger on some secondary and pass rushers. Didnt expect them to go top tier but they need to stop scraping the bottom of the barrel and expecting different results.

  6. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I agree with Matthew, a youth movement for the teams future, with a locked in cost for 5yrs. The last Two parts will be youth for Wilfork, and Tom (if Mallett is not the guy and is traded). Continueing to add youth to the Oline, even if Vollmer signs, is also a part of the future. These are areas the draft will have supply players I think. The guys I like in this draft to address these areas ??
    OG/C Barrett Jones, or OG/T Brian Winters
    DT Brandon Williams, or Jesse Williams
    QB Sean Renfree

    • td says:

      It appears the only “locked-in cost” is the garauntee of $10mil, which if true is probably a bonus which would be spread over 5 years or $2mil per year. If they don’t like what they have, they will cut him and eat $2mil per year for the next 5, not $6.2mil.

      $2mil vs. $6-7 mil? This is the reality that is the NE Patriots. The only guy that has/had any leverage over the Pat’s is #12. They will move on from anyone & everyone to get the deal they want.

      I would imagine they are offering Vollmer $4-5mil and Talib $5mil per year. It seems the market right now is not hot for RT’s and the CB market has a lot of players so it will take some time.

      For the Pat’s they will say you need to take a lower deal for playoff runs, but it really is all about the buck. The Kraft family did not get rich by being dumb with money.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        I believe they will sign Vollmer. The other part of the Welker deal was Lloyd, who the Patriots want to keep, for the 3mil. bonus, and the 10 mil. for welker is what the Patriots wanted to spend for those positions.
        They will now sign a CB ,I think ,Antoine Carson 3yrs 5-6 mil. + Bonus and a guy like RB/KR Washington, 1yr 1mil. cut by Seattle. I also feel they look at CB Derek Cox, WR Early Doucet, and maybe S Woodson.

  7. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I think it was a good move, time to make changes with the O. Amengola offers youth, more up field possibilities, and a future for the slot-R. Signing a 5yr deal means hes locked -up for the future.
    Its time the Patriots O evolves, into a new , less perdictable, game. Miss -matches will always be a major part of it, yet youth to continue the Patriots pay-off runs over the coming years are key.
    The Oline is the next area they must bring in youth to added for depth and future. Drafting OG/C Barrett Jones looks very high if on the board when the Patriots pick, or OG/T Brian Winters. I think Vollmer signs soon ,if not then a OT will be in the draft mix, Fragel, or Pugh, or ?
    QB will be somthing to watch if we trade Mallett, as Tom’s set for a few more years, but an injury, could spell trouble for the Patriots future.

  8. JV says:

    I think 2 years from now we will look back and this personel decision will be right up there with Albert Haynesworth, Ocho Stinko, Asante Samuel, Derrik Burgess….ect.

    Bill’s personel decisions the past several years have been horrible.

    • MatthewJones says:

      I’m not sure about that. There have been some misses, but this is also one of the most talented rosters in the league, in large part because of the new talent Belichick has brought in: Ridley, Gronkowski, Hernandez, Solder, Vollmer (if he -re-signs), Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Spikes, Hightower, McCourty, Dennard, etc.

      • td says:

        I would think their new found ability to draft young talent has afforded them the luxury of swinging for the fences on some of these FA’s. It looks like a power struggle with Welker; they can only “find” $5mil/yr for him but can “find” $6mil for Oucho? Give me a break, it’s always about the money with this organization. You think Brady took a team friendly hit to bring in new talent? He knows that if he starts to falter, he too will be leaving the premises, Tom Brady or not.

      • AM says:

        My concern is less that they have hits and misses–every team does–and more that they seem to specifically have difficulties integrating wide receivers into the offense. Since the Moss/Welker/Stallworth extravaganza six years ago, I can’t think of a free agent or draft pick that has successfully made the transition, Brandon Lloyd notwithstanding. (In my opinion, the jury is still out on Edelman.) Obviously Gronkowski and Hernandez are great, but what they are asked to do is less sophisticated than Welker’s, and now Amendola’s, responsibilities.

        Of course, some of that may be tied into Welker’s ability to handle a sophisticated offense. Going forward, they may simply ask Amendola to do less, if necessary, and rely on the brute force of the two-TE set. To the extent that this requires a more diverse offensive approach, this may be a good thing, but the missing production has to come from somewhere (and I shudder to think what the offense will look like if one of the tight ends is injured again). Ultimately, Amendola may be fine, but they definitely need to keep looking for help.

        • J H TARBORO says:

          AM We have in addition to our TEs, waiting in the wings FB James Devlin 6’3″ 251lbs.

        • AM says:

          I think that a FB on the active roster would be a good thing when it comes to the power running game, doubly so if he can catch out of the backfield. I wonder if he’ll be able to make the team, though, behind Ridley, Vereen, Bolden, Demps, and possibly Woodhead and/or Leon Washington. Although I guess we could count him as the fourth TE.

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