Rapid reaction from the New England Patriots reaching a five-year, $31 million deal with receiver Danny Amendola, with $10 million guaranteed, as reported by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter:
This move is naturally tied to receiver Wes Welker, and adds some context as to why the Patriots set their price on Welker at the level they did.
They had a replacement in mind who is younger (27 vs. 31) and they get a longer-term deal out of it (five years versus two years). Because of this, the Patriots appeared willing to pay more on an average-per-year basis (around $6 million versus around $5 million based on their reported 2-year, $10 million offer to Welker).
The question is whether Amendola's production will match Welker's, and if Amendola can match Welker's reliability and durability while avoiding injury, which has limted him to 12 games over the past two seasons.
The background that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had with Amendola from his stint as the St. Louis Rams' offensive coordinator in 2011 likely was a factor in the team's comfort level with this deal. That was a chance to see first-hand what Amendola would look like in the team's system, even in training camp, which had to be invaluable.
Also, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has often noted that the slot position in the Patriots' offense has produced big results in his tenure -- first with Troy Brown, then with Welker. That isn't to take anything away from Brown and Welker, but part of the function of the team's offense puts the slot receiver in position for big numbers. He obviously feels strongly that will continue with Amendola, who has drawn some comparisons to Welker in the past.
Similar to when the Patriots acquired Welker in 2007, inking Amendola to a five-year deal also had to be appealing to the team.
There is naturally a risk here that the Patriots are taking.
They had the sure thing in Welker, who was still playing at a high level and appears to have a few good years left in him. He was a beloved player by the team's fans.
Now they're passing the torch to a younger player with more long-term upside, but whose track record doesn't match Welker's.