The New England Patriots didn't value Wes Welker. They viewed him as a role player who was replaceable. Now they have replaced him.
The Patriots have reached a five-year, $31 million contract agreement with wide receiver Danny Amendola, a source told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport on Wednesday. The deal includes $10 million guaranteed and came just hours after Welker and the Denver Broncos agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract.
"Blessed. Thankful. Excited to get to work," Amendola tweeted Wednesday night. "Go Pats."
Rapoport reported the Patriots have been talking to Amendola's representatives since the unrestricted free-agent negotiating period began, which is probably why they made such a low offer to Welker. The Patriots knew they had Amendola in their back pocket all along, and it sure looks like they wanted the younger player more. Welker's offer from New England was $10 million over two years, according to NFL.com's Albert Breer. Ultimately, Welker and Amendola will receive the same amount of guaranteed money.
Amendola, like Welker, is a Texas Tech product who relies on short-area quickness from the slot. Amendola has better long speed, but he can't match Welker's experience with Tom Brady or Welker's durability. Amendola missed almost the entire 2011 season and five games in 2012. Welker has missed just three games since 2005.
It's not a surprise that Welker took the Patriots' two-year, $10 million offer as a sign of disrespect. It did show a lack of respect. The Patriots saw Welker as replaceable, a secondary piece in a two-tight end offense built around Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
It's one of the boldest moves in coach Bill Belichick's Patriots tenure. Few players have found success after leaving New England, but Belichick also has swung and missed big on plenty of free agents.
Amendola is about to learn he has very big shoes to fill.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.