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Patriots sign Amendola to replace Welker

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The New England Patriots have agreed to terms with receiver Danny Amendola on a deal that would reportedly pay him $31 million over five years, moving quickly after the loss of five-time Pro Bowl selection Wes Welker.

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Amendola posted a message on Twitter saying, ``Blessed. Thankful. Excited to get to work. Go Pats.'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher also said Amendola had signed with the Patriots. The Patriots confirmed the deal later Thursday.

``We are excited about Danny's addition to our team and we look forward to beginning work with him this spring and into the future,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a release.

Also Thursday, the Patriots announced the signing of running back Leon Washington, who has played seven seasons with the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks.

Amendola, 27, is a 5-foot-11, 188-pound former rookie free agent from Texas Tech - the same school as Welker. After signing with the Rams in 2009, Amendola led the NFL with 66 kickoff returns, 1,618 kickoff return yards and 1,978 total return yards.

The following season, he led the NFL with 2,364 all-purpose yards, catching 85 passes for 689 yards and three touchdowns.

``We talked to Danny throughout the process and (are) very excited for Danny, happy for Danny and his opportunity and wish him well,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. ``We started this process back in September and it didn't work out for us. You'd think as soon as Welker leaves, Danny's their guy and in fact he is. He's going to be very productive in their offense.''

Welker averaged 112 catches and six touchdowns a year over six seasons with the Patriots. He signed with the Denver Broncos on Wednesday for two years and $12 million, turning down a reported $10 million over two years with the Patriots.

Amendola has struggled to stay healthy, playing in 16 games only once.

Washington, 30, is a former fourth-round draft choice from Florida State who shares the NFL record of eight career kickoff returns for touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2012.

In 103 NFL games, Washington has run 473 for 2,213 yards and 16 touchdowns, and caught 146 passes for 1,127 yards and two TDs.

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AP Sports Writer R.B. Fallstrom contributed to this story from St. Louis.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
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