There's a ton of smoke regarding Danny Amendola and the Patriots. Is there fire? Since free agency began on Tuesday, there have been consistent but unconfirmed rumors that the Rams restricted free agent wideout would be visiting New England. It's a possibility I broached before free agency opened, reasoning that Amendola's situation now is identical to the one Wes Welker was in back in 2007 before the Patriots ultimately traded for Welker. The first murmur of Patriots interest came Tuesday night from PFT poobah Mike Florio who said he'd heard a rumor Amendola was visiting. Amendola's agent, Erik Burkhardt, has steadfastly said that he "can't help."This morning,Scott Zolak of 98.5 The Sports Hub tweeted(@ScottZolak) that "Danny Amendola was at The Place last night...hmmm"Burkhardt, in turn,would not confirm or deny Amendola's presence in Boston. Meanwhile, in came another tweet from a follower that Amendola's aunt died and his father lives in Scituate. The Patriots are extremely cloak and dagger to begin with, but, in the case of Amendola, one could see why they'd be even more secretive. Hosting Welker's obvious replacement on a free agent visit will make things sticky with an invaluable player. The Patriots put the franchise tag on Welker and are committed to pay him 9.5 million. They have until July 15 to work out an extension or Welker will play 2012 under the franchise tag. The Patriots want Welker to stay and reportedly offered him a fully guaranteed two-year deal worth 16 million last fall. Welker's camp wants a longer term and -- with the money flung at free agent wideouts over the past 40 hours -- probably wants more than 8 million per year. And the case could easily be made that he deserves both. If there's no extension, the Patriots will be in the position next offseason of franchising Welker for even more money (likely around 11 million). Again, 20 million for two years of ridiculous production without the payout of a huge bonus isn't totally absurd. But it's not going to be the first option for either side. So now, if the Amendola rumors and purported sighting are accurate,the Patriots are looking at options. Amendola missed 2011 with a dislocated elbow suffered in the season opener but Josh McDaniels got enough of a look at Amendola in St. Louis to know what he's dealing with. And what he's dealing with in Amendola is a Welker clone. We'll keep you up to date on this as information comes in.
Bill Belichick had a predictable response to the questions he faced about Deflategate on Friday afternoon.