There might have been other factors at play, but on Wednesday, the New England Patriots essentially decided that they'd rather have Danny Amendola on their roster than Wes Welker. The deal Amendola signed with New England pays him a higher annual salary than the one Welker inked with the Denver Broncos, and is nearly as valuable when it comes to guaranteed money.
In fact, Amendola ended up getting more money than New England offered Welker, which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. After all, we're talking about a guy who has more catches than anyone else in football since joining the Pats in 2008. No one else has 500 catches during that span. Welker has 560. And as a result, he's also fourth in yardage in that time frame, trailing only the Johnson boys and Roddy White.
But Welker will also turn 32 this offseason, while Amendola is only 27. Both are pure slot receivers, but Welker's a proven star while Amendola has only shown glimpses of being another Welker.
I understand the concern about Amendola's durability. He's made it through only one full season in his four-year career with the Rams and he's missed more games than he's played in since the start of the 2011 campaign. But Welker, again, is half-a-decade older.
And the possibility exists that, aside from those injuries, the difference between Amendola and Welker, productivity-wise, has been the system. Welker's had it a lot easier in the New England offense, which has to help a lot.
Welker also led the league with 19 dropped passes in 2012 and has a ridiculous 48 of them in the last three seasons. Yes, he's been targeted a lot, but he's still been ranked in the bottom 10 in terms of drop rate in two of the last three years, according to Pro Football Focus. Amendola dropped only two passes in 2012, ranking sixth in the league in drop rate.
I know that's just one stat, but it's a major advantage for the younger Amendola. On a per-game basis in 2012, Amendola caught six passes for 60 yards, while Welker caught seven for 85. Is that extra 25-yard catch worth extra cash to New England, especially when you consider that Welker is on the wrong side of 30 while Amendola's prime probably still lies ahead of him? Throw in that Welker was targeted 10 times per game while Amendola was thrown at less than nine times per game and the gap is even smaller.
And that's why I think it's possible both teams will end up being pleased with what went down on Wednesday. Those who think the Patriots are being foolish are failing to dig deep.