Danny Amendola would have been a nice add for Tom Brady in 2019. Slip him on like a favorite old pair of shoes that got buried in the closet. Get a little more mileage out of him.
Not gonna happen. Amendola, after being released by Miami, is reportedly signing with the Lions. He’s going to get $4.5 million in base salary.
Why would he go to the Lions when he could come back to the Patriots and compete for a Super Bowl?
Because that base salary is going to be -- by far -- the highest base salary of his career. And after agreeing to annual haircuts with the Patriots after signing here in 2013, it behooves the soon-to-be-34-year-old to make every penny he can before the game tells him he’s done.
Why would the Lions value Amendola so much? You know why. They’re not good. They have no old heads that have been through the wars. Matt Patricia’s already bobbing on the waves and gasping for breath.
Half of Amendola’s value will come from catching Matt Stafford’s passes. The other half is to be a bauble. A pro. A leader. A culture changer.
Could work. Amendola’s got a knack for interacting so that he won’t come off as a preachy little Harry Highschool/Patriot Way/narc for Patricia that will make his new teammates want to stuff him in a locker.
But it probably won’t.
A moderately similar dynamic unfolded with Trey Flowers. Of course the Patriots wanted him back. But Patricia knows the damage Flowers can do. And now Flowers is in Detroit on a five-year deal that is reported to be worth $16-$17 million per season.
When we talk about the Patriots' sustained success in a league rigged to prevent it, we point to the weighted draft, the hard salary cap, the steady wear of playing extra games every season.
But the league-wide clamor that ups the value of their free agents is something we rarely get around to mentioning. And when head coaching or front-office openings are filled by former Patriots coaches and execs, the competition for products of the Patriots system escalates.
Players who’ve been through New England get pixie dust sprinkled on their helmets. Flowers isn’t just a productive, young, versatile player who does everything very well, he’s also been coached hard and performed in the biggest games. Amendola isn’t just a smart, tough receiver with ridiculous hands and body control. He’s Danny 'PLAYOFF' Amendola.
The ironic thing is, the bump given by former Patriots is debatable.
Last offseason, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase made Amendola an absurd two-year, $12 million offer with $8 million guaranteed because Gase was so desperate to change the culture in Miami. Amendola didn’t disappoint. He led the Dolphins in receptions. Gase got fired anyway.
Meanwhile, Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson pilfered Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis a couple of years after grabbing Logan Ryan. The Giants overspent on Nate Solder.
As for this season, Dwayne Allen’s already joined Flores in Miami. Amendola is gone. So is Trent Brown, whose career went through a 16-week rehab and is now reportedly headed to the Raiders, who are making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
The knife does cut both ways. The Patriots have, over the years, had some players come to them because they wanted to chase championships and be part of (and I don’t think this is hyperbole) something historic. Amendola, actually, is a good example of that.
But these first few days of free agency are -- for many teams -- about making a splash as well as making a team better. Signing a middle-class free agent cast away by the Cardinals isn’t going to create a ripple.
Bringing in a Patriot and turning yourself into “Foxboro South” (or West, North or Central)? There’s value there.
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