PHOENIX -- Rex Ryan has a lot on his mind these days with the possible trade of Darrelle Revis, question marks at quarterback and the comings and goings of free agency and the draft. But there is one thing he is glad he doesn't have to dwell on any longer.

Wes Welker.

The Patriots receiver signed with the Broncos as a free agent last week, meaning that the Jets won't have to face him twice a year any more.

"I'm glad Wes is not there," Ryan said at the AFC coaches' breakfast at the league meetings on Tuesday. "I'm not kidding you. That guy was a pain in the tail and just a great player. Durable. Tough. Ugh. I hated Wes Welker. I'm just kidding. Kinda. But I admire him, there is no question about it. In fact I'm a huge fan of Wes Welker's. But I am glad that he's not there anymore."

The Patriots replaced Welker with Danny Amendola, who used to be described as "a poor man's Welker" until he signed with the Patriots for more money that Welker got from the Broncos. Ryan said he'll have to be convinced that Amendola is as good as his predecessor.

"Now they bring in this other kid from the same school (Texas Tech), and clearly Wes has worked with him (based on) the way he runs routes and all that type of stuff," Ryan said. "So he'll step right in. But will he have the same success as Wes Welker? I don't know because Wes Welker had historical success. So we'll see. That's some big shoes to fill."

Ryan and Welker have had run-ins both on and off the field. Before a 2010 playoff game Welker held a press conference in which he made many references to feet, a jab at Ryan's personal peccadilloes. He apologized. Apparently the apology was accepted because Ryan raved about Welker Tuesday...although he did take a shot at his diminutive size.

"I think Wes Welker is a much better athlete than he's given credit for," Ryan said. "Super tough, competitive, and all that. My son is bigger than him but I don't think he's got the same ability. I think that's really underrated about Welker. Maybe it's because he wears that big helmet and all that other jazz, but the guy is a tremendous player."

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Ryan said over the years the Jets "tried everything" to stop Welker, and hardly anything seemed to work.

"He doesn't run but maybe five routes, but you just can't cover him," Ryan said. "I mean, him and Brady were on the same page. That's why it's like 'Throw it to somebody else!'"

Now, Ryan will get his wish. Brady will, in fact, throw it to someone else.