Hello, Danny Amendola. Good-bye, Wes Welker.

Welker is gone, Patriots fans. Talk show callers flooded the airwaves when the news broke Wednesday afternoon that the free-agent wide receiver had agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with the Denver Broncos.

Yeah, the Broncos. That team with Peyton Manning and likely New England's top rival in the AFC over the next couple of years.

The callers to Boston's two sports radio stations were irate. Sports talk show callers are normally as rational as Charles Manson. In this case, however, I couldn't agree more.

The Patriots are deservedly being bashed. Welker didn't sign for four years. Given his age (31), that would have been too long. He didn't sign for $12 million a year. That would have been too pricey.

But two years at $6 million a year for the best slot receiver in football? That's a bargain -- and the fact that the Patriots let Welker head west for that price is an embarrassment.

Hours later, it was reported that Amendola, a fomer St. Louis Rams wide receiver, had agreed to a five-year deal with the Pats worth $31 million.

Huh?

Welker is durable and productive. Amendola, 27, is brittle and relatively unproductive.

Welker was the epitome of a good soldier during his six seasons as a Patriot. Played hurt. Came back months early from a devastating knee injury. Went over the middle without reservation despite being the smallest guy on the field.

And he kept getting back up after taking dozens of bone-crunching hits. Oh, and Bill Belichick loves players with versatility and guys who put the team above themselves.

Welker was the ultimate team guy. When the Patriots needed him to return punts, did he say no? When's the last time you saw Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson return a punt and risk serious injury? No, I missed it, too.

By letting Welker walk -- and that's exactly what they've done, they've had years to put together a multi-year contract -- the Patriots are losing the best slot receiver on the planet, a durable player who rarely misses plays, never mind games, and one of the top punt returners in the NFL.

All over a couple of million bucks. I would have loved to have seen Tom Brady's face Wednesday afternoon when he heard his good buddy was joining Manning and the Broncos.

Brady always says the right things. He's the ultimate professional. But it would have been priceless to see his real reaction, not the one for the cameras. A couple of weeks ago Brady took a team-friendly deal to put the Patriots in better position to contend for a fourth Super Bowl title.

Brady was being loyal. What did he receive for that loyalty from Bob Kraft and Belichick?

A date hasn't been announced, but the Broncos will play the Patriots next season in Foxboro. It's going to be laughable to see the Patriots try to cover Welker. Who will draw the assignment?

Ras-I Dowling? That's funny. Put Welker down for 12 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown. Put it this way, it's late in the game, and the Patriots need a stop. It's third-and-8 and Manning drops back to pass. The fans at Gillette Stadium rise to their feet.

Manning surveys the field. He uncorks a pass in Welker's direction ... and Welker hauls it in, makes a player miss, and moves the chains.

It's going to happen. Time after time after time.

As for the Patriots, the Belichick-can-do-no-wrong crowd will kick Welker now that he's gone. They'll talk about his drops. They'll talk about how the Pats never won the Super Bowl with No. 83 in uniform.

Let's see what they say after they watch Patriots defensive backs chase him around all day.

For six glorious years, Welker gave everything he had to the Patriots. He produced on the field like a dream. Off the field, he never made negative headlines.

On Wednesday, the Patriots lost one of their all-time great players and undoubtedly pissed off their franchise quarterback.

They then added Amendola. But it was still a dark day in Patriots Nation.

Follow Barry Scanlon at twitter.com/BarryScanlonSun