The Patriots will have to make plenty of tough decisions in the month of March, as free agency ramps up. Trailing only the pending case on cornerback Aqib Talib, is the decision the Pats need to make on slot receiver Julian Edelman, who is set to become a free agent on March 11. Closely tied to the determination on Edelman has been what the Patriots should do with oft-injured receiver Danny Amendola, who owns a similar skill-set to Edelman.
Rumors began to fly in NFL circles this past weekend that the Patriots were looking to trade Amendola, according to Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report. Cutting Amendola outright, to free up money to re-sign Edelman, could also be an option that Bill Belichick and Co. are entertaining.
Edelman outperformed Amendola by a wide margin in 2013, a year that began with some pundits projecting that Edelman wouldn’t even make the Patriots’ 53-man roster coming out of training camp. Edelman played in all 16 regular season games for the Pats in 2013, racking up 1056 yards of receiving on 105 catches. Amendola played in just 12 games and recorded 633 yards receiving on 54 receptions. Edelman also returned punts for the Pats in 2013.
The Pats seemingly signed Amendola as the replacement for Wes Welker, who fled to Denver. Welker also dealt with injuries in 2013, missing three regular season games, and had his least-productive season since his days in Miami. Interestingly enough, the Broncos could choose to part with Welker in the next few weeks and a game of slot receiver musical chairs could begin. The idea of Welker returning to the Patriots is highly unlikely, given Belichick’s open disdain for No. 83 (see Welker’s “dirty hit” on Talib in the AFC title game), though higher-ups within the Patriots organization are still talking at-length about their former leading receiver.
Asked about Welker at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at the Hynes Convention Center, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft spoke at-length about last year’s negotiations with Welker.
“We franchised [Welker] the season before,” Kraft said, according to The Boston Globe. “ The idea was to try to work to a long-term deal … We still offered Wes, before free agency started, more than he ended up getting in the open market. But once free agency started, we went out and signed Amendola because he fit a construct that worked within our system. And we couldn’t take the risk of losing both Wes and Danny.
“So it really wasn’t as much about the money, it was about trying to do a deal with Wes before free agency started. His agent had a view of the world that we didn’t think was realistic.”
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS