Patriots

Patriots

Last week, when I confirmed Danny Amendola’s contract restructure was a two-year, $7.35 million deal, I described the new pact as a win-win for the Patriots and Amendola.

Digesting the numbers that dropped on Tuesday it’s more of a WIN!-win. The Patriots got Amendola whittled down this year to a relative nub after he was slated to make $5 million in salary and is now going to make $1.25 million. It’s not going to be all that bad, though, if Amendola plays like he did in 2015.

Last year, he took a salary haircut where he went from $4 million to $1.25 million. But with a signing bonus of $500,000, a $750,000 incentive for catching over 62 passes (he caught 65) and $31,250 for each game active ($437,500), Amendola still made nearly $3 million. Which, for a 65-catch wideout who averages 10 yards per reception and isn’t a real big red zone threat is a good wage.

It’s a notch lower this season. He’s got the same salary ($1.25 million) but the signing bonus is $100,000 (down $400,000). He’ll still get a bonus for each game he’s active, but that’s been trimmed to $25,000 and is now capped at $250,000. He can make another $500,000 in bonuses. So the best he can do is just about $2 million.

Next year, the Patriots will be back at it again with Amendola. His base salary in 2017 is due to be $6 million. Not happening.

 

So what was originally billed as a five-year, $28 million deal back in 2013 when Amendola plopped into Wes Welker’s spot on the roster (amid much local wailing) will, by the end of this year, be a four-year deal that’s paid out about $17 million. Relative to what Amendola’s salary placeholders were and what he’ll actually make, it seems like he’s getting hosed.

Until you really reflect on what his role was in 2013 and 2014. In his first season with the team, Amendola started brilliantly in Buffalo and helped bring home that win. He also destroyed his groin muscle on both legs. He played 12 games, started six, had 54 catches and three more in the Patriots two playoff games. He was paid $8.375 million for that. A big win for him.

In 2014, he caught just 27 passes for 200 yards in the regular season before going off in the playoffs. And made $3.5 million. Real generous given the overall numbers.

So Amendola won by knockout in the first 10 seconds in 2013. He won by TKO in 2014. Maybe he took a split decision in 2015. This year, for the first time, the Patriots should get more than what they paid for.

It’s not been Amendola’s fault. His frame and playing style make him susceptible to injury. Meanwhile, Julian Edelman’s blossoming into the league’s best slot trumped Amendola. But Edelman, after the 2012 season, garnered zero attention as an unrestricted free agent that year. He’s become what nobody expected.

Amendola needn’t feel badly for cashing Robert Kraft’s checks in 2013 and 2014. And he shouldn’t feel taken advantage of now. What comes around goes around.

Besides, it isn’t like Amendola was going to find anything comparable if he were a free agent. He is a Patriots-style player who has more value here than he would anywhere else. Offensive coordinators, quarterbacks and head coaches in virtually every other city would look at a 5-foot-9, 185-pound, 30-year-old slot who gets hurt annually but plays like a rabid terrier and say, “What am I supposed to do with this?”

The haircut Amendola took this year (and the one he’ll get next spring) may seem like a scalping. But big picture? He’s done just fine.