Its certainly been an emotional and exciting day for us Pats fans. It probably sent Ian out looking for more server space to keep up with the traffic. Lets get to what we know happened first. 1. Wes Welker is gone. I was NOT obviously not one of those who felt Welker was a mandatory resigning. But as I read the Welker to Denver thread from when it was just a rumor to when it became I fact, I have to tell you that, while I knew in my brain that it was likely to happen, in my heart I was hoping that it wouldn't. I understood all the reasons why he might be going, but when the reality hit, I wasn't happy. He was only here 6 years, but in time he will earn a place in the Pats HOF, and deservedly so. 2. What was the real shocker in all this was the price that he mustered. If Ivan had told me that the Pats could have Welker for 2 years and $12MM, we would have been best buds. I would have done that deal in a heartbeat and laughed the whole way. It was really telling number in a lot of ways. First it showed that the Pats had moved on from him, and only would have brought him back on their terms. The fact they had Amendola's name on a ontract within hours, only confirms this. They are going to change the direction of the offense, and Welker's skills didn't fit, at least not at that price. Second, I am surprised that 2 and 12 was the best he could do from the rest of the league. The Broncos couldn't have been the only other serious suitor. What it shows is that, so called "slot receivers" are still considered 2nd class citizens, not worthy of top money, not just the Pats, but by every team. Think about it. The best Slot receiver of his generation got half the money/yr than the 3 top new WR contracts so far (Bowe, Harvin, and Wallace). Throughout all the discussions we had about Welker's contract the past 2 months, regardless of which side you took, we all vastly underestimated the market for slot receivers. It really brings into focus why the Giants are having such a tough time getting Cruz signed 3. I think everyone is a little sad right now. Most will move one. Others are going to pissed for a long while. The Amendola signing is some solace. How big a solace will be discussed ad nauseum for the next 6 months before we get some answers the questions we have. What I hope (and it will be in vain, of course) is that when the season starts and Wes has a good game, that people here won't constantly throw it in our faces. We are fans of the Patriots and its OUR team that should be our focus. Wes is a Bronco now and he should only be a concern when he plays us. 4. Danny Amendola brings a lot of the qualities of Welker. There are almost too many Welker comparisons to mentions.Someone linked an excellent Amendola profile from Grandland that goes into many of them in detail. So I'll focus on the differences. There are 2 main ones, imo. The first is his size. While not a "big" receiver Amendola is 5'11 with long arms and has a larger catch radius that Welker. Welker was in his element on balsl thrown from his chest to his toes. He was a master there. Where he struggled (and this is relative of course) were on balls he had to reach over his head for. I don't remember ever seeing him leap and out fight someone for a ball. Amendola isn't Anquan Boldin by any means or even Brandon Lloyd, but he does excel to a greater degree on those kinds of catches. The second area of difference is durability. Amendola has one of the best yds/game average in the league at over 60/game. The problem is that he hasn't been able to play a full 16 games the last few seasons. It will be by far the greatest criticism of him as the off season progresses. The good news is that the injuries he has gotten are the freaky kind, and not the muscle/hamstring/concussion kind usually associated with the truly "injury prone". The bad news is that he can't lose the reputation until he actually gets through a season relatively unscathed, so it will be talked about over and over, to no satisfactory conclusion. 5. Its not always what you think - There are people going to be pissed that the Pats wouldn't play Welker $6MM/yr, but are willing to pay Amendola slightly more. Well that 5yr $31MM contract has only 10MM guaranteed, so if Amendola ever ends up getting his $6MM/yr it will be because he EARNED it, and was worth it and more. He could just as easily end up being a bargain as a bust. And if he is a bust, he won't be an expensive one. 6 I don't see Amendola putting up the number of catches that Welker did over the last 6 years. I didn't expect Welker to, had he returned. At least I hope so. The reason being I doubt that he will have nearly the number of targets that Welker got. I'm thinking more in the 80-90 range. And this will lead into the speculative portion of the post. 7. I see a Pats offense that will be a little more aggressive next season. More slants and quick strike seam patterns. More passes to our RBs, and more rushes. The biggest failure by our offense in the Raven game (at least to me) was how often we failed on 3rd and short. I have to believe it was at least a half dozen times, and most of those were passes from the gun, with little or no run threat. I'm hoping that with a healthy Gronk and Ballard, the Pats will run more often in that situation, and thus make the play action off that run more effective when the want to pass. Something that were uncomfortable doing last season. 8. I'm guessing that Amendola won't cost more than $3MM on this year's cap, so th Pats Pat still have in excess of 22MM still in cap space, so as more and more good players get cut our options keep growing. So lets explore a few names that we haven't heard much about. a. Kerry Rhodes - Jet fans hated him, which probably should be looked at as a plus. But he is only 30, and a Safety who makes a lot of plays and has had some good years with a relatively good defense in Arizona. But I bring him up for this observation. I can never remember a Jet game where BB didn't make a point to say a few words to him after the game, so I watched closely after the Cardinal game this year, and damned if BB didn't make a bee line to Rhodes after he shook the HC's hand. So now there are veteran safeties who the Pats could easily add to that very young secondary, in Rhodes, Reed, Pollard and AWilson. Don't be surprised to see one of them wind up here.just before camp, and Rhodes would be my darkhorse guess. 9. Interesting that the 2 top pass rush options got their instant deals (Krugger, Avril) and neither exceeded $8MM/yr. That's a far cry for what top rushers have gotten the last few years. Its an indication that guys like Freeney and Osi, etc better lower their expectations, and another indication that market is soft at every position. 10. Most of the immediate OL contracts seem to be in the $5-8MM range so far, so I'm still optimistic about getting Volmer in that $6-7MM/yr Range eventually. And while LaRon Landry got the $6MM/yr he wanted from the Colts, the CB market seems to be surprisingly soft. Steve Smith isn't getting any run according to PFT, and Aso coming on the market due to get paid $4MM next season from Philly regardless, makes him an interesting target. One I'd love the Pats to explore in addition to Talib. It would be sweet to think of a DB of Aso, and Talib at CB. Dennard in the slot and McCourty and Rhodes/Wilson at S. There's a lot you could do with that group. For example if one of the opponents WR's is a smaller quicker WR, you put Dennard on him, with Talib on the bigger one. Then you send Aso inside to match up on the opponents top TE receiver as a safety or coverage LB. At 6'2 and close to 220 he's big enough. 11.I seem to recall that there are over 300 players with NFL experience who are looking for jobs. That is a LOT of very good football players. Within a day or 2 there is going to be a quantum shift from teams contacting agents looking to make big money offers, to agents contacting teams begging for them to give their clients jobs. There will be a lot of teams who will find significant contributors from that latter pool of players. When add the over 250 players who going to be draft, that's almost 600 players looking to fill far fewer than that number of slots. More than ever this off season, its a buyers market,. The patient WILL be rewarded.