Now that the dust is settling after the Welker mayhem, I wanted to offer my opinion before I head off to bed.
Regardless of emotional attachment to Welker, the Patriots ultimately thought that Amendola is the more valuable player at this point. This is evidenced by the Patriots lukewarm offer to Welker and failure to match Denver's offer. Furthermore, they gave money comparable to what Welker received to Amendola. This means that New England preferred Amendola over Welker. Whether you agree or not, this is a fact.
You can argue all day about Welker's toughness, heart, and what he means to the franchise. How much value these attributes possess is an entirely subjective matter...
With that said, what isn't a subjective matter is the follow:
- Amendola is 5 years younger than Welker.
- Welker is bigger and taller.
- Amedola has longer arms which allows him to present more of a threat down the field and catch the ball away from his body easier.
- Amendola is more of a playmaker at PR and KR.
- Amendola is much faster in a straight line.
- Due to many of the aforementioned attributes, Amendola is capable of presenting a bit of a deep threat and move outside hashes at times.
It is also very true that Welker wasn't happy with New England and was carrying a personal grudge. Fair or not, this would have made any relationship going forward strained. Further to this point, Welker clearly wanted to leave. He turned down a very impressive contract offer last offseason and instead took a marginal deal from the Broncos. He wanted out and the Patriots didn't appear too concerned about that.
Now as for durability issues and chemistry with Brady, these are somewhat legit concerns, especially the latter. As for durability, it's not like Amendola is pulling hammies and tweaking ankles... this doesn't appear to be an injury prone player. He suffered a broken elbow and a broken collarbone. These are freak injuries that happen. I firmly believe that moving away from that unforgiving artificial field in St. Louis will help him immensely and these type of hard-impact injuries won't occur.
In terms of chemistry, that's something that will be tough to answer until we see Brady throwing to him. With that said, Brady is a hard-worker and Amendola is a motivated young man. If they both put in the work, and I can't imagine why they wouldn't, I don't expect them having too many issues getting on the same page.
Ultimately I'm pleased with the signing and think it gives them the opportunity to improve in the immediate future, and definitely improves their longterm outlook. Welker was getting older and ultimately the Patriots thought Amedola the more valuable player at this point. Whether you agree or not, this is a fact and this gives me confidence in Amendola.
Barring anymore freak injuries, Amendola is very likely to upgrade the WR position as well at the PR/KR spot for us both in the near and longterm future. He is a hard worker, and he possesses plenty of that heart & soul that Welker has. He will run through a brick wall to win a game and gives 101% on every play.
Obviously there's some emotional sting to losing Welker to the Broncos and Manning, but looking at this in a strictly objective way, I struggle to see how this isn't an upgrade for the Patriots.
If we continue to upgrade our defense and add another piece at WR, this team will be improved and in an adequate position to contend with the Broncos for the AFC Title.