The New England Patriots‘ decision to let Wes Welker walk via free agency to the Denver Broncos was puzzling to say the least. After all, Welker led the league in receptions in his tenure in New England (2007-2012). Furthermore, Welker led the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving first downs when lined up in the slot in his final season with the Patriots.
Instead of matching the Broncos’ two-year, $12 million deal for Welker, the Patriots opted to sign Danny Amendola, the younger and more agile wideout, to a five-year, $31 million deal with $10 million guaranteed. The 27-year-old wideout is five years younger than Welker and possesses much better hands.
Welker’s 11 drops were second-most in the NFL in 2012, while Amendola’s drop rate of 2. 1 percent was the second lowest in the league, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
There was one major reason to steer clear of Amendola this offseason: he can’t stay on the field. In his final two seasons with the St. Louis Rams, Amendola appeared in just 12 of a possible 32 games. In his debut with the Patriots, Amendola suffered hurt his groin against the Buffalo Bills, but the injury appeared to be minor as he was able to come back into the game and help spearhead the game-winning drive alongside Brady.
However, news broke today that Amendola could miss up to six weeks, putting a wrench in the Patriots’ plans on offense. The fact that Amendola suffered this serious of an injury is frustrating for a Patriots organization that invested so much money in the talented, yet seemingly fragile wideout. He caught 10 passes for 104 yards against the Bills, but his inability to stay healthy now clouds his effective performance.
Amendola’s groin issue now becomes a major burden, considering all the injuries the Patriots are currently dealing with. Pass-catching tailback Shane Vereen is out until Week 10, while tight end Rob Gronkowski is not expected back until Week 3 at the earliest.
The knock on Amendola as a player is that he cannot be counted on to stay healthy and effective as a team’s slot receiver. Now, in a time where the Patriots needed Amendola more than ever, the wideout played right into the hands of his critics by getting injured once again, potentially putting a damper on the Patriots’ offense in the next six weeks.