By the Numbers: Welker and Amendola

The controversial swap of slot receivers in New England has come with a mixed response from fans. Khaled Elsayed looks at how the two shifty options stack up.

| 4 years ago

By the Numbers: Welker and Amendola

They were the moves that nobody saw coming, but in hindsight made sense to everyone.

Wes Welker no longer a Patriot as he signs a two-year, $12m deal with the Denver Broncos. Danny Amendola his replacement on a five-year, $31m contract. Patriots fans are questioning the decision, while others are defending it.

For us? Well, we’re all about how this will impact the production on the field so let’s do a comparison between the two.

Playing Time

The first striking difference between the two is just how much they’re on the field. As the table below shows, Welker (whose numbers also include playoff games) doesn’t miss much time. Amendola? Well he’s missed 22 games since 2009.

YearWW snapsWW % of Team SnapsDA SnapsDA % of Teams Snaps

Of course we can’t predict what the future holds for either man in regards to staying healthy. Amendola might go onto enjoy Welker-type longevity, while age itself might catch up with the new Bronco receiver who finds himself unable to get anywhere near that high snap percentage.

Feature Factor

So what about production? Obviously there are outside factors involved in this with Welker having Tom Brady throwing to him, and Amendola having Sam Bradford. That’s significant, but it’s also important how often they were targeted relative to how much they were on the field. As it shows here:

YearWW TargetsWW RoutesWW Target %DA TargetsDA RoutesDA Target %

Certainly in the last three years comparable, with the gap between the two very noticeable in 2012. When Amendola was on the field in 2012 he was more likely to see the ball thrown to him than Welker was.


So what about their actual production? Despite comparable target percentages, Welker is considerably more productive in terms of picking up yards per route run as the table below shows.

YearWW YardsWW RoutesWW YPRRDA YardsDA RoutesDA YPRR

Some of this may be down to the quarterbacks in play. 80.3 percent of the balls thrown to Welker have been catchable, while that number is at 74.9 percent for Amendola. You’d expect Amendola to get a little boost playing with the more accurate Brady as opposed to Bradford for sure.

Slotting In

One of the bigger differences is in their usage. Amendola hasn’t been nearly as prolific a receiver from the slot as Welker as the table below shows.

YearWW Slot YdsWW Slot RoutesWW Slot YPRRDA Slot YdsDA Slot RoutesDA Slot YPRR

Some might say this bodes well for Amendola adding another dimension to the Patriots offense, but he’s run a higher percentage of his routes from the slot (85.3) than the 73.8 percent Welker has since 2009. And while much is made of him possibly offering a vertical threat the numbers don’t back that up.

YearWW RoutesWW Deep TgtsWW Deep RecWW Deep YdsWW Deep YPRRDA RoutesDA Deep TgtsDA Deep RecDA Deep YdsDA Deep YPRR

Some of this will have to do with the quarterbacks willingness to attack downfield but with Tom Brady going deep (further than 20 yards in the air) on 13.2 percent of attempts and Sam Bradford at 13.1 in 2012, that difference is negligible, with Welker having an average depth of target on throws 7.6 yards last year and Amendola 7.9.

Obviously a receiver going to a different team doesn’t mean you can just copy across his production and paste it over — but there are some striking similarities between Welker and Amendola. It goes beyond them being short and shifty slot receivers, to how they’ve been used and it’s why it’s logical to think the Patriots are hoping this move sees them get younger at a vital spot of their offense.

That said, given how important Wes Welker has been to the team, he’s going to be hard to replace. I for one am interested to see how both men perform next year.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • James Dorgin

    I know this is obviously big news in the free agent market, for a variety of reasons, but people need to stop doubting the Patriots. They have been making moves like this for a lot of years now, and they are almost always 100% correct with their decision making process. It’s not about showing loyalty to a player, or a player showing loyalty to a team. Players has their own motivations; money, location, winning team etc. and NFL teams have considerations of their own; salary cap issues, and winning long term. In the ideal world, everyone would be happy, but that isn’t possible.

  • VP

    100% CORRECT?????????????

    • roguepatriot

      You forgot to mention 18-1.

      Yeah, the last 8 years have been utter failure since 2004….

      16-0 regular season
      2 AFC Titles
      8 winning seasons
      7 playoff appearances

      Since spygate, the Pats have literally been one dropped INT (Asante Samuel) away from a perfect season, one dropped pass away (Wes Welker) from another SB title, and other dropped pass away (Wes Welker) from another AFC title.


    • roguepatriot

      Since “spygate” the Pats were a dropped INT away (Asante Samuel) from a perfect season, a dropped pass away from another SB title (Wes Welker), and another dropped pass away from another AFC title (Wes Welker).

      Yeah, the Pats have done nothing since “spygate”, dude.

    • karnak58

      Cameragate? Seriously? Name a team with a better winning percentage since then.Having a computer and a keyboard does not make you intelligent.

  • roguepatriot

    Comparing Welker with Miami to Amendola with the Rams is a better comparison.

    Missed games is misleading as both players ended the season on IR. Amendola got on IR at the beginning of the season while Welker ended his season on week 17. Just as no one plans on having a flat tire, no player can decided when they get injured.

    • LightsOut85

      I agree with that first part, Brady will likely be able to throw more catchable balls DA’s way, so on the same number of targets his stats would improve.

  • Lelouch vi Britannia

    Bill Barnwell made a very good point about Amendola vs. Welker in terms of health. He said that they were very similar in terms of the time they spent out of commission, but Welker didn’t miss as many games because it was at the end of the season. So missed games was not the best indicator for who would be healthier in the future. He also said that Welker’s ACL tear is more likely to cause future problems than Amendola’s dislocated elbow.
    As far as their on-the-field abilities, I think Amendola is faster and has better hands, but is less quick. IMO, his hands will make up for his lack of quickness and establish him as a security-blanket as good as Welker if he gets the route-running and chemistry with Brady. His greater speed could make defenders worry about him going deep more. That’s a best-case scenario, obviously, but I don’t feel bad about this switch at all. Especially since a few people have reported that the Pats were going after Amendola all along.

  • ringlis45

    Couple things I note:
    1) NE runs more plays per game than StL. Meaning by default more snaps and more routes and likely more targets net (even if percentage stays flat)
    2) NE has better cast where Amendola can do more by having to do less

    Net for me is Amendola healthy projects to 85-100 catches and about 1,400 yrs.

    NE still needs a deep threat to complete the 3 levels but I like them better than Denver to have better numbers overall as an offense.