It's unavoidable. New Patriots receiver Danny Amendola will be compared to Wes Welker throughout the course of the 2013 season. They're the same size. They both play in the slot. And, no matter what anyone in the Patriots organization says, Amendola is Welker's perceived successor.
Yet, when Tom Brady spoke with WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show on Thursday morning, the quarterback did his best to nip those comparisons in the bud.
"They're [playing] similar positions. They're about the same height. They've both got very good ability," Brady started. "It's hard, Wes was so productive for so long, I think it's unfair to compare anyone to Wes and what he was able to accomplish in his time here. Danny is really, he's just been fun to work with. I think he's come in with an open mind and an understanding of the way that we as Patriots, the way we need to play."
Brady and Amendola spent time together working out before this week's OTAs, and the quarterback likes what he's seen so far from his new target.
“He’s always had a lot of talent,” Brady said. “To watch him out there and play against him when he was at the Rams, he was very productive. It’s been fun to work with him. He’s got the tenacity to him and the drive and the determination and the work ethic. In a short period of time, it’s really easy to see. Like I said, he’s one of those guys where the more we throw, the better we’re going to be. So, we’re trying to always kind of talk and communicate through practice, through OTAs. We threw in the spring a lot, and hopefully as the summer continues leading up to training camp, we’ll get as many reps as we can together so we’re on the same page.”
For over a year, Brady made it clear that he hoped Welker would remain in New England long-term. The two had been the most productive quarterback-receiver combination -- not to mention very close friends -- over the last six seasons.
Still, when Welker signed with the Broncos and Amendola became a Patriot, Brady said he was not surprised.
"I don't think anything surprises me anymore in the NFL," he said. "I've been around long enough to see things happen at different times with the greatest players of all, whether that's Wes or Randy Moss being traded by the Raiders or Brett Favre and playing for the Jets and Vikings. That's what happens, this is a, like I said, it's a very tough, competitive business and nobody appreciated Wes more than I did and what he was able to accomplish for our team. He's moved on, he's in a good situation with another great team and a great quarterback. We always kind of kept in touch, we always will. He's one of my best friends."
Brady opted to keep close to the vest his feelings after he found out Welker had landed in Denver to play with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
"Of course I have feelings, but those feelings are very personal to me," Brady said. "I used to get caught up in anger and disappointment, but I don't make the decisions. These things aren't up to me. At some point you've got to realize the things that are out of your control. You've just to to let go, focus on my job and what I need to do. The game moves on, the team moves on. There's only so long you can dwell on the past and at some point you've got to move forward.
"Like I said, my job for my team is to be the best quarterback and not the general manager, not the coach and not the owner. It's to try to go out there and bring my own competitiveness to the field so that those guys that I'm playing with this year can rely on me and count on me to be the best I can be."
Brady insisted that he made no requests of the Patriots to re-sign Welker after he agreed to a contract extension that gave the Patriots significant salary cap flexibility.
"Those aren't my demands," Brady said. "I want us to field as competitive a team as we can. And I have all the trust in the world that Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft] and coach Belichick do that. There's nothing about me, I don't say that, I'm not general manger. I can't say 'I do this, you do this.' That's what my decision was, it was kind of a value proposition for me and wanting to be in this system with Coach Belichick and the other players that I've been able to play with."
And even though his good friend and most trusted receiver isn't back in the mix, Brady believes the Patriots front office has assembled a good group of players going into this season.
"I think we are going to field a competitive team," he said. "It's been competitive thus far through the offseason conditioning and OTAs thus far. We've been close. We were in the Super Bowl two years ago. We were in the AFC championship last year and I know we have a good team. We've just got to do a few more things better. Hopefully that will lead to more success."