Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 3/16/13
All good things must come to an end. Wes Welker’s introductory press conference in Denver. (AP PhoteAndrieski) So, when Patriots fans woke up Wednesday morning, after hours of wringing their hands at the start of the NFL’s annual feeding frenzy (also known as free agency), they had one thing on their mind: Wes Welker.  For if their lives as Patriots fans, as subjects of “The Hoodie” Bill Belichick, had taught them anything, it was that the longer something didn’t happen in free agency, the longer The Supreme Leader would have to scheme, plan, and execute terrible retribution on the league in the aftermath of only his second AFC Championship Game defeat. Ok, I’m being overly dramatic, but you get the point, it was a pretty big day in Pats Nation. So when Wednesday came to a close with Wes Welker in a Broncos uniform, catching passes FROM A MANNING, we were a little upset.  Wes Welker, even after all the clutch drops, was supposed to retire a Patriot. Patriots owner Bob Kraft even told us so! But all good things must come to an end.  So what happens next? As most of you know, the Patriots spent no time finalizing a deal with “The Poor Man’s Wes Welker”, Danny Amendola. The former St. Louis Rams wide receiver, and former Texas Tech standout (just like Wes!), signed a five-year $31 million contract just hours after the Patriots “lost” Welker. Many people contend that Amendola is “The Poor Man’s Wes Welker” for a reason, and believe that he will be unable to match the production of Welker, who averaged 112 receptions, 1,243 yards, and 6 touchdowns a year in six seasons with New England, but the similarities between Amendola and Welker are too strong to ignore. Both men produced huge numbers in Mike Leach’s system at Texas Tech, both men went undrafted, and both men are now considered top talent at the slot receiver position in the NFL. The only real differences between the two are consistent health and age. Amendola has missed twenty games in the past two seasons while Welker has missed four games in six years with the Patriots. However, Amendola is five years younger than Welker, just now entering the prime of his career as Welker enters the twilight of his. via cbssports.com Wes Welker is no longer a Patriot, so what happens now? The Patriots see these similarities as clearly as the general public, and they’re much better football minds than any writer. The Patriots signed Welker to a five-year deal after showing promising numbers in Miami, knowing their offense was designed to emphasize the middle of the field in the passing game. That philosophy that started with Troy Brown, has only been strengthened as the Patriots have used Wes Welker and a revolutionary tight end tandem to unleash the most potent offense in NFL history. Now, the Patriots just have to hope that lightning strikes twice. But really, who can blame them? They have arguably the best quarterback in history, and an offensive coordinator who knows Amendola’s game after coaching him in St. Louis. Sure they are taking a gamble on Amendola’s health, but they also may have just landed Wes Welker 2.0 for the next five years instead of Wes Welker 1.0 for the next two.   And even if Amendola proves to be too injury-prone, the Patriots have only guaranteed him $10 million of that $31 million contract, meaning that they can move on if they see fit. For the Patriots, it’s a typical low-risk, high-reward move, one that could be viewed as a brilliant in three years. Consider this, if Amendola DOES pan out, the Patriots have three crucial pieces of their offense in him, Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Gronkowski intact through the 2017 season.  That’s not even to mention the other moves the Patriots have made in free agency so far. As of the end of the day Friday, New England had signed former Bills receiver Donald Jones to a three-year deal, and started the process of snatching restricted free-agent Emmanuel Sanders from the cap-strapped Pittsburgh Steelers.  If all goes well, the Patriots may have finally succeeded in making their receiving core bigger, faster, and stronger. So while all good things must come to an end, who’s to say good things aren’t on the way? -Fenton
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