Tom Brady’s temper has probably cooled off now that the realization of Wes Welker being gone has set in. His former go-to slot man is off to greener (and much higher) pastures in Bronco Country. Who’s next? Enter Danny Amendola, stage right. He’s not the household name Patriot fans are used to in the Northeast, so can he really be Brady’s next Wes Welker? His short NFL career may suggest so.
A quick comparison of the two receivers from their Texas Tech days is rather haunting. Although they graduated five years apart from one another (Welker in 2003 and Amendola in 2008) both had their fair share of offensive playmaking in Lubbock. Welker left campus with 259 receptions, 3019 yards, and 21 touchdowns compared to Amendola’s 204 receptions, 2,246 receiving yards, and 15 touchdowns.
Both were also standouts on special teams. Welker was awarded the Mosi Tatupu Award (given annually to the best special teams player in college football) in 2003. Similarly, Amendola finished third all time (Welker was first) in punt returns and yardage with the Red Raiders.
Fast forward to the NFL, and the stories are also similar.
At 5’ 9” and 185 lbs, Welker, who went un-drafted, had a short stint in San Diego before eventually being traded to Miami. He proved to be a decent slot option for the Dolphins for three seasons. In each of those seasons, playing predominately with quarterbacks Gus Frerotte and Joey Harrington, he never accumulated more than 687 yards receiving. In 2007 he was traded to New England. The rest as they say, is history.
At 5’11” and 188 lbs, Amendola, who was also un-drafted, had short stints at Dallas and Philadelphia before spending four seasons in St. Louis. While there, he proved to be a nice slot option for Marc Bulger and later Sam Bradford. Similar to Welker’s numbers, Amendola had a career reception high of 689 total yards in St. Louis in 2010.
Hauntingly similar indeed.
Patriot fans may have another reason to have hope. If (and it’s a big if) Amendola can stay healthy, he might be on the cusp of having a breakout year in New England. Last season, while playing in only 11 games, the Patriot’s new 5 year, $31 million Wes Welker replacement had 63 catches, 666 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
Scouting reports on Amendola all show that he has great vision, hands, and speed – traits that Wes Welker provided for Tom Brady. Like Welker, he has shown the ability to gain yards after receptions. Welker has a career yards after catch (YAC) of just under 6 yards, Amendola averages 4.4 YAC. Prior to moving over to New England though, Welker was only averaging slightly above 5.
Unlike his usual self, Head Coach Bill Belichick actually provided an opinion on bringing in a free agent for next season. Regarding Amendola, he said, “We are excited about Danny’s addition to our team and we look forward to beginning work with him this spring and into the future.” Even if the comment may have been a dig on Wes Welker, I would chalk that it up as a good sign for Patriot fans.
Only time will tell with Amendola, but if history repeats itself — and it often does, I think Mr. Brady may actually have his new Welker in Foxboro. He just won’t be wearing number No. 83.
BY AARON BRATKA ON APRIL 13, 2013