It was a tumultuous day for the New England Patriots, who watched one of the team's most prominent players depart only to welcome a newcomer into the fold.
Only hours after wide receiver Wes Welker left the Patriots to join the Denver Broncos, the team came to terms with his apparent replacement, agreeing to terms with wide receiver Danny Amendola on a five-year deal worth $31 million.
ESPN's Adam Shefter was among the first to break news of the deal.
Lose one receiver, add another: Patriots reach agreement in principle on five-year deal with former Ram Danny Amendola, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2013
For some Patriots fans, the Amendola news was very welcome after the stunning announcement of Welker's departure, including at least one rather high-profile one.
Danny Amendola signed by Pats.As I was sobbing err saying...meet you in the AFC championship.— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) March 13, 2013
It also led the NFL Network's Rich Eisen to quip about the nickname that Amendola has developed over the past couple of seasons.
I guess you can't call Danny Amendola a poor man's Wes Welker anymore.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) March 14, 2013
However, it didn't take long for the dark clouds to begin to gather over this particular parade.
James Walker was one of those who began the drizzling, calling this a "rare miscalculation by the Patriots."
Amendola is not an upgrade over Welker, no matter how the team spins it. Welker’s numbers are far superior, and Welker is significantly more durable than the injury-plagued Amendola. In addition, it will take years for Amendola to develop anything close to the same chemistry Welker had with quarterback Tom Brady.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen also made mention of Amendola's extensive injury history, even while giving the 27-year-old his due respect as a player.
Danny Amendola very talented, slot WR & returner, and young. But he has played only 1 full season in his 4 yrs and missed 20 gms last 2 yrs— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) March 13, 2013
Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller referenced that injury history, while pointing out that Amendola and Welker aren't as similar as some may think.
Not sure Danny Amendola is the fit people want him to be for #Patriots. Injured a lot. Not as tough as Welker in his routes.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 13, 2013
Their sentiments were echoed by Don Banks of Sports Illustrated, who wrote that "it's certainly not a good day for those who follow and revere the Flying Elvis logo."
Amendola plays a similar style of game as Welker, he's not Welker. He doesn't have his track record or his penchant for staying healthy and answering the bell each and every week. So any way you cut it, it's not an upgrade for the Patriots. There was only one Welker, and he's now wearing orange and blue, and getting ready to give Manning that same security-blanket feeling in the pocket he always gave Brady.
That brings us to the Golden Boy and how he feels about Wednesday's developments.
As Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports reported, it's probably not very good, especially after he recently signed a contract extension to free up cap space that many people theorized would be used to keep Wes Welker in the fold.
Either Brady is a candidate for believing that gullible is not in the dictionary, or he agreed to the extension knowing that losing Welker was a possibility. If the latter is true, I have a feeling he's already second-guessing his decision.
"He's got so much pressure on his shoulders now — again," said the person close to Brady. "If the offense doesn't perform at a high level, they're screwed. This is unbelievable. It's hard not to feel like they've sold him out."
That the Patriots responded Wednesday evening by signing former St. Louis Rams receiver Danny Amendola to a reported five-year, $31-million contract will be of small consolation to Brady. Welker was his guy, and Amendola, though younger and similar in stature and playing style, hasn't been nearly as productive as the man he'll be replacing.
Tom Curran of Comcast Sports Net hasn't spoken to Brady yet, but after speaking to a source "close" to the star quarterback, it's clear that his camp is none too happy.
Spoke to someone close to Tom Brady. Beyond enraged at contract details that netted Broncos Wes Welker. "Disgrace""disservice" were used.— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) March 13, 2013
Assuming that Brady isn't exactly over the moon about his favorite target and close friend leaving town, there's going to be a ton of pressure on Amendola to both get on the same page with Brady and produce quickly.
However, it wasn't necessarily all doom and gloom where Amendola was concerned. Bleacher Report AFC East Lead Writer Erik Frenz made some very interesting points regarding the four-year veteran.
According to ProFootballFocus.com's slot performance metrics, Amendola's catch rate was just 2.4 percent lower in the slot than Welker's, but his drop rate in the slot was just 1.9 percent compared to Welker's whopping 12.9 percent drop rate. Amendola also caught as many touchdowns in the slot as Welker did, both finishing with three apiece, but Welker got his on 50 more targets.
For their part, many New England fans are doing their best to paint this change in a positive light, touting Amendola's youth and welcoming him to the team.
@theycallme_va good! We got a younger and faster replacement the 2nd he left too! Welcome Danny amendola!— ✨ Mat ⚡ Vasel ✨ (@RealFlashIsBack) March 14, 2013
Danny Amendola is a younger, faster, more explosive version of Wes Welker. Fans should be ecstatic that the Patriots signed this guy.— Tim Amara (@TimAmara) March 14, 2013
With all that said, though, there's just no way that I can view Amendola as an upgrade over Welker.
Sure, he's younger. But he's also only played a 16-game season once and has missed more games over the last two years than he's played in.
Meanwhile, Welker has missed all of three games in six years with the Patriots, and that's with a torn ACL thrown into the mix.
Over those six years, Welker has topped 1,000 yards five times. He has more 100-catch seasons over that span than any other player has in the history of the National Football League.
Sure, Amendola is a talented player, there's a chance he could thrive in New England, and after Welker signed in Denver, the Patriots had to do something.
However, while the team can try to spin this any way they want in the coming days and weeks, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com makes a good point.
If the Patriots wanted Amendola more than Welker, why make the Welker offer? nfl.com/news/story/0ap…— gregg rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) March 14, 2013