Danny Amendola has agreed to a five-year contract with the Patriots, according to Adam Schefter. The deal is apparently worth a total $31 million with $10 million in guaranteed money, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, making for an average of $6 million per season — the exact same amount Welker wanted.
The Patriots reached out to Amendola during the three-day negotiating window before free agency last weekend, and it appears that he will indeed take Welker’s place in the slot after all.
During four seasons in St. Louis, Amendola became a primary target for quarterback Sam Bradford and established himself as one of the most dangerous slot receivers in the league. He caught 196 passes and seven touchdowns in 42 career games over what amounted to essentially three healthy seasons with the Rams.
Amendola’s health issues are a concern for the Patriots, especially considering Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez‘s lengthy battles back from injury last season. When healthy he has proven to be a reliable option inside the slot, which caught the attention of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during his one season with the Rams.
The Patriots’ thinking in this decision likely revoled around age, given that Amendola is just 27 and Welker is set to turn 32 this spring, as well as future production, which Welker might have a more difficult time keeping up into his mid 30s.
Amendola may never produce at the same level as Welker — five 100-catch seasons is an incredible feat, after all — during his heyday in New England, but he is definitely capable of impacting the game in a similar way out of the slot. The attention now will turn to whether he and Tom Brady can hit it off as quickly as Brady and Welker did in 2007 — 112 catches and eight touchdowns are pretty gigantic numbers to live up to.
Either way, the Patriots have finally made a splash in free agency and found their slot receiver for the future. Now, the focus should turn to defense.
Photo via Facebook/Danny Amendola