Through the conference championship, Wes Welker has 83 catches on 125 targets (66.4%), 854 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Danny Amendola has 57 receptions on 89 targets (64.0%), 710 yards, and 2 TDs. That's a difference of 36 targets, 26 receptions, 144 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
Worst of all, Amendola didn't even replace Welker.
That honor was bestowed upon the impending free agent Julian Edelman, he of 175 targets, 121 receptions, 1229 yards, and 7 touchdowns.
This isn't to say that Amendola was a waste of a signing by the Patriots. At the end of the day, his 89 targets ranked second on the team, but he was unfortunately thrust into that WR2 role that he should have been commanding from day 1. Amendola was paid to be the Patriots biggest threat at wide receiver. Instead, he might not have cracked a healthy Patriots' offense.
Amendola's 89 targets in 14 games (6.36 TPG), pales when compared to #3 target Shane Vereen's 83 targets in 10 games (8.3 TPG). Rookies Aaron Dobson (5.77 TPG) and Kenbrell Thompkins (5.54 TPG) feature plenty of game ending injuries. Tight End Rob Gronkowski amassed 9.43 TPG, including his premature departure from the Browns game.
Any argument that Amendola would have played sixth fiddle to a healthy receiving corps of Edelman, Gronkowski, Vereen, Dobson, and Thompkins shouldn't be ignored. It might even be correct. When looking at targets per route (via Pro Football Focus), Amendola ranks behind all but Thompkins. Brady doesn't look at Amendola and it couldn't have been any more evident than in the conference championship game.
Brady threw the ball once to Amendola and it was dropped. There were times this season when Amendola was wide open, yet Brady wouldn't even look in his direction. The Boston Globe's Ben Volin even noted how open Amendola was on a crossing pattern, yet Brady opted to throw the deep bomb to Matthew Slater.
When playing situational football, Brady just doesn't trust Amendola. Sure, Amendola ranks second on the team in targets, but when the game's outlook is bleak, he suddenly vanishes from the playbook. When the Patriots are down a touchdown or more, he fell to the fourth receiving option (19 targets)- behind Edelman (37), Vereen (35), and Gronkowski (20).
Amendola's in a dog house and he has to do everything in his power to get out of it.
In 2010, Julian Edelman moved to Los Angeles so he could play catch with Tom Brady at all times.
Danny's got to make a similar move.
Amendola came out of the gates blazing, before his groin injury and subsequent concussion derailed his season. By the time he recovered, Edelman's grasp on the position would never open. Now, the Patriots and Amendola have some choices to make.
The Patriots can try and bring back Edelman and essentially name him a key cog of the Patriots offense. It's extremely likely they'll go this route, especially knowing how important having a safety blanket is for the offense.
The Patriots could cut their losses with Amendola, understanding that Edelman was undeniably the better player this season and that the roster spot might be better used with a different type of receiver. Cutting Amendola would result in a $2.7mm cap hit, though, and there's no value in releasing him, making it unlikely they'll go this route.
The final option puts the ball in Amendola's court. He can understand that the Patriots are going to try and bring back Edelman. He can understand that he has a defined role in the offense, as the slot receiver. And he can understand that in order to become more involved in the offense, he'll need to gain Brady's trust.
If I'm Amendola, the first thing I'm doing is renting a condo and buying a one way ticket to LA.