Not surprisingly, Pro Football Focus is higher on Denver’s signing of Wes Welker than New England’s signing of Danny Amendola. After reading Bill Barnwell’s Grantland piece on the same subject, the reader is still left wondering why – in the name of anything sensible written on the web — he comes to the opposite conclusion.
Even Barnwell would have trouble disputing this: Denver committed $12 million over two years to a receiver that it knows will produce 100 catches, 1,000 yards, and 6 touchdowns, or some reasonable approximation thereof given the number of downfield targets from which Peyton Manning has to choose. New England committed $31 million over 5 years to a humongous question mark.
Most of the gloss Barnwell has to add to that is pretty unpersuasive. Amendola is younger, true, and Welker was equally unproven coming into his stint with the Patriots. Does Welker’s past success mean rolling the dice on Amendola is a good move? Not really.
Barnwell says that, since both players suffered season-ending injuries in 2011, Amendola’s in Week 1 shouldn’t count any more than Welker’s in Week 16. If that seems, based on mere intuition, like a bad argument, it’s because it is. It presumes that, given 15 more games of playing time, Amendola wouldn’t have come back and suffered another injury, adding to his track record for fragility. In fact, he did suffer another injury that year when he tried to come back, which landed him on IR for good. Welker, meanwhile, logged 15 healthy weeks for which he deserves to be credited. Amendola is an injury-risk, and Barnwell’s biased spin doesn’t fix that.
About the best argument Barnwell can come up with is that we should trust Bill Belichick’s track record for sound, timely personnel decisions. I actually buy that. The question is how far that argument gets you. Does invoking the name “Belichick” shield the Patriots from any criticism for free agent busts like Adalius Thomas or Reche Caldwell? Seems to paint with kind of a broad brush. Not to mention, it’s more boring for fans that way…
Go with your gut on this one, folks: Denver got a steal in Welker, and only time will tell in Danny Amendola lives up to his huge payday.