In 2007, the New England Patriots hustled the Miami Dolphins out of Wes Welker. Welker, then 26, was given a second-round tender by the Miami Dolphins as a restricted free agent. For a young player on the rise on a poor team, the Patriots could pry him loose with a contract offer that included a "poison pill" and only have to fork over a second-round draft pick. In the end, the Patriots took pity on Miami and worked a trade instead, sending Miami their second-rounder and a seventh-rounder as well in exchange for Welker who they signed to a five-year deal. In the Patriots' system - and thanks to his own talents - Welker has been perhaps the most productive slot receiver in NFL history. My friend Mike Reiss wrote about the machinations behind the Welker signing for The Boston Globe back in 2007. Now, five years later, there's a player that's as close to Welker in style as any in the NFL. And he's been given the second-round tender as an RFA. Danny Amendola of the St. Louis Rams, who missed almost all of 2011 after dislocating his elbow in the season opener, is a player that had 85 catches for St. Louis in 2010. He's 5-10, 186 pounds. He plays the slot. He returns punts. He's 26 years old. He was undrafted out of Texas Tech. He was cut by two teams - the Eagles and Cowboys. The Turf Show Times, a Rams fan site, detailed the similarities last year. Could the Patriots pull the same move with Amendola that they did with Welker and set themselves up with Welker's successor? It makes sense. Except for the money. With Welker carrying a 9.5 million franchise tag and the Patriots likely looking at a wideout like Brandon Lloyd in free agency as well, that's a lot of money being flung at a position that New England's been miserly about spending toward. A new deal for Amendola to pry him out of St. Louis would only add to the wideout tab in 2012. Meanwhile, acquiring Amendola would certainly crimp any contract extension talks with Welker that the team could have between now and July 15. It could cause Welker to back at signing the tender at all and staying away from the team into training camp. But it would free the Patriots up from having to give a long-term deal to a slot man who turns 31 in May and it would bring Welker's eventual replacement in the fold. With free agency opening Tuesday at 4 p.m., we'll soon find out if the Patriots see the logic in making the same move with Amendola that they did with Welker. Let's hear from you in the comment section whether you think it's a move New England should explore.
DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.
BOSTON – The trip to the TD Garden is one that Jared Sullinger has made many times but never like this.
The former Celtic was back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent.
- Highlights: Toronto Raptors 101, Boston Celtics 94
- Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan
- Stars, studs and duds: Celtics have no answer for Lowry
- All-Star backcourt leads Raptors down stretch to beat Celtics, 101-94
“I had a feeling it was going to go that way once they signed big Al (Horford), that they were going to let me go,” Sullinger said prior to Friday’s game. “We were prepared for it. It is what it is. I’m happy these guys are doing well.”
And he hopes to say the same for himself sometime in the future after undergoing surgery to have a screw inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot – the same foot he had season-ending surgery on during the 2014-2015 season with the Celtics.
There’s no specific timetable as to when he’ll be back on the floor, and Sullinger is cool with that plan.
“I don’t know. They’re hiding the protocol from me so I won’t rush; we’ll see,” said Sullinger who is still in a walking boot.
The 6-foot-9 forward played well in the preseason and solidified himself as the team’s starting power forward.
Now that he’s out with another injury, he’ll have to once again try and prove himself either later this season when he returns, or this summer when he becomes a free agent again.
For now, Sullinger is happy to be back in town, seeing lots of familiar faces, friends and ex-teammates that he says he still keeps in close contact with.
“Some of these guys I considered like brothers to me,” Sullinger said. “IT (Isaiah Thomas), Jae Crowder to name a few. So I watch from a distance, I support from a distance. They’re playing well.”
In addition to his former teammates, the lines of communication remained open between him and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as well.
Stevens said the two exchanged text messages right before he had foot surgery, and afterwards.
“Obviously, everyone here wishes a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back on the court soon,” Stevens said.
Sullinger has been an effective player during his time in the NBA, with career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
But this will be the third time in his five NBA seasons that he will miss a significant amount of time on the court due to an injury or recovering from an injury.
Stevens acknowledged that he feels for Sullinger who once again has to go through rehabilitation in order to get back on the floor.
“I like Jared a lot,” Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s a really smart guy. Got a lot of respect for him and it stinks that he’s got to go through that but he’ll come back strong I’m sure.”