Welker Joins Broncos; Pats Reload with Amendola
Free agent wide receiver Wes Welker is a free agent no more. The nine-year veteran inked a deal with the Denver Broncos Wednesday afternoon, shunning former team New England in the process.
The Patriots were quick to rebound, signing St. Louis free agent wide receiver, Danny Amendola, later in the day.
Welker Heads West
Welker’s departure from New England came as a surprise to many who believed his testing the free agency waters was merely a vehicle to obtain a bigger contract from the Patriots. It appears that Welker didn’t see it that way.
The move is less of a surprise when you consider the issues between Welker and the team which started last offseason. While Rob Gronkowski was securing a big money contract and the front office was forking out for Brandon Lloyd, the team appeared not to be committed to Welker.
Welker was eventually handed the franchise tag by team for the 2012 season.
Welker, who went undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2004, has been a focal point of the Patriots offense for much of the past six seasons.
In 2012, Welker led the league with 118 receptions, tallying 1,345 yards and six touchdowns. His 11.5 yards per reception and 80.2 yards per game both exceeded his career average.
In his six years in New England, Welker has caught 672 receptions, more than any other player across that timeframe. Those receptions led to 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns.
The nine-year veteran will now join Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker at the wide receiver position in Denver, both of whom tallied 1,000-yard seasons last year with Peyton Manning under center.
The two-year deal is reported to be worth $12 million.
Welker was the joint second best, and best wide receiver, free agent prospect this offseason, according to Scouts Inc.
Pats Make Quick Move
With Welker out of the picture, New England was quick to sign Amendola.
Like Welker, Amendola went undrafted out of Texas Tech. He spent time on the Dallas and Philadelphia practice squads before being picked up by St. Louis. He made his debut on Sept. 29, 2009, returning eight kickoffs for 187 yards and two punts for 23 yards.
In his four-year career with St. Louis, Amendola made 196 receptions for 1,726 yards and seven touchdowns, with an average of 8.8 yards per reception and 41.1 yards per game.
Amendola missed all but one game of the 2011 season with a dislocated left elbow and injured triceps muscle. He returned in 2012 but played in just 11 games, bowing out following a dislocated clavicle.
Despite his status as an injury risk, New England was willing to take a chance to the tune of $31 million over five years, $10 million of which is guaranteed.
Amendola will be reunited with Josh McDaniels. The New England offensive coordinator was an assistant coach with the Rams in 2011.
Scouts Inc. had Amendola at No. 7 on its list of best wide receivers available during free agency.
The opening two days of free agency have seen a lot of prompt movement. Here’s a round-up of some of the more noteworthy moves.
Highly-touted DE Cliff Avril is the latest addition to a Seattle side that swooped for WR Percy Harvin earlier this week. Avril has recorded 39.5 sacks in five seasons in Detroit.
Released earlier this week by Pittsburgh, WR Mike Wallace will ply his trade in Miami this season, after signing a five-year deal on Tuesday. That’s good news for Ryan Tannehill but the jury remains out as to whether it’s a good move for Wallace.
San Francisco may have scored a jackpot with the Anquan Boldin trade but the 49ers certainly will lose out with news that S Dashon Goldson is headed to Tampa Bay. The Niners did however prize DL Glenn Dorsey away from Kansas City.
Speaking of Kansas City, the Chiefs have further bolstered their ranks over the past two days adding TE Anthony Fasano (from Miami), DE Mike DeVito (NY Jets), WR Donnie Avery (Indianapolis), CB Dunta Robinson (WR), and QB Chase Daniel (New Orleans). That’s one busy war room right there.
After being cut by the Giants, DL Chris Canty will head south down I-95 and hook up with defending Super Bowl champions, Baltimore.
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will join Wes Welker in Denver after spending the last two seasons in Philadelphia.
Following two solid years in Miami, RB Reggie Bush will give the Detroit Lions a much-needed second dimension next season, after signing a four-year contract on Wednesday.
Cut by Pittsburgh earlier in the week, five-year veteran RB Rashard Mendenhall will add some punch to the Arizona backfield next season.
After four seasons in Baltimore, LB Paul Kruger will suit up for division rivals Cleveland after signing with the Browns on Wednesday.
Other moves include: TE Martellus Bennett (NYG) joining Chicago; S Patrick Chung (NE) heading to Philadelphia; RB Shonn Green (NYJ) and DT Sammie Lee Hill (DET) signing with Tennessee; and S Glover Quin (HOU) agreeing with Detroit.
Not everybody’s packing their bags this offseason. Here’re some of the names staying put, for the time being at least.
After leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory, QB Joe Flacco signed a big bucks contract to stay in Baltimore. Everybody knows this, but the real question remains as to just who will be sticking around with him?
Dallas slapped the franchise tag on LB Anthony Spencer ensuring at least one more season from the six-year veteran. The trick is now to find a way to keep him in 2014.
Kansas City hasn’t just been raiding every other team’s cupboards. The Chiefs resigned WR Dwayne Bowe, who is set to become Alex Smith’s favorite target. P Dustin Colquitt will also be staying in the City of Fountains.
In Minnesota, Adrian Peterson can continue to run behind OT Phil Loadholt, who re-signed with the Vikings this offseason.
Other players sticking around include: DT Henry Melton (CHI), OT Will Beatty (NYG), CB Chris Houston (DET), PK Rob Bironas (TEN), and LB Larry Foote (PIT).