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March 14, 2013

Broncos, Welker agree to 2-year deal, Amendola to Pats

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Wes Welker is saying goodbye to Tom Brady and hello to Peyton Manning.

After spending six years with Brady in New England, the Pro Bowl receiver agreed to a two-year deal Wednesday to team up with Manning in Denver.

The Patriots wasted no time finding a replacement for Welker as the team inked Danny Amendola to a deal reportedly worth $31M over five years. Like Welker, Amendola plays the slot, he is younger at 27 years old and he has more speed down the field. Amendola has been injury prone and has not put up Welker’s numbers.

The Welker signing was the highlight of a big day for the Broncos, who once again made a major splash in free agency.

Denver also came to terms on a two-year deal with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, formerly of Jacksonville, and a one-year contract with linebacker Stewart Bradley, who played with the Cardinals the past two seasons.

Last year, the Broncos won the high-stakes contest to sign Manning, prompting Broncos boss John Elway to quip, “Plan B? I don’t have a Plan B. We’re going with Plan A.”

Coming off a 13-3 season during which the Broncos looked like a Super Bowl contender before losing to Baltimore in the division round of the playoffs, Elway is clearly on the same path this time.

He picked up the league’s most productive receiver to play in the slot where Brandon Stokley was last season. Welker’s five 100-catch seasons are the most in the NFL. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his past five seasons and was an All-Pro four of the past five years.

Welker caught 118 passes for 1,354 yards and scored six touchdowns last year, helping the Pats go 12-4 and make the AFC title game before they also fell to Baltimore. He developed quite a rapport with Brady during his six seasons with the Patriots.

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