Is Danny Amendola returning to the Lions a signal?

Is Danny Amendola returning to the Lions a signal?

Danny Amendola’s going back to the Lions.

That doesn’t really tip the NFL’s balance of power. But it is a tipoff.

Either Amendola and Tom Brady weren’t the free agent package deal they were reported to be or — and this is the more likely scenario — the sure thing was the smart thing for the 34-year-old wide receiver.

Amendola’s decision to return to Detroit raised some eyebrows in Foxboro where it was taken as a sign that players may not be able to wait on Brady’s free agent decision.  

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Does it matter to Brady whether or not he’s able to round up a collection of players he’s familiar and comfortable with? To some degree, it has to.

So much of the Patriots’ 2019 offensive struggles were related to the learning curve the majority of Brady’s receivers faced.

He did little to mask his frustration that the team marched into camp with N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Maurice Harris, Bruce Ellington, Matt LaCosse, Dontrelle Inman and Braxton Berrios as the complements to Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett.  

And it went about as Brady expected as the combination of inexperience, unfamiliarity and ineptitude left Brady flinging the ball into the cheerleaders at an alarming rate.

If Brady and the Patriots can’t reach an agreement before free agency, he’s lighting out for the territories. Which means unfamiliarity with personnel, scheme, city, coaching staff, owner, GM, scouting department, etc. wherever he goes.

It was easy to project Amendola as a comfortable wingman for Brady. Even at 34, he’s still incredibly reliable. In four of the past five seasons, he’s caught 65, 61, 59 and 62 passes. His outlier season was injury-marred 2016 and he atoned for the 23-catch regular season by ripping it up in the playoffs. He also delivered the Patriots to Super Bowl 52 with his fourth-quarter performance in the AFC Championship Game.

Amendola coming off the board underscores the fact that — wherever he goes — Brady’s starting fresh.

That may not faze him in the least. Especially if — during the recruiting process — he’s enthusiastically embraced and told he’ll be owner-operator of an offense rather than assistant manager.

In how many cities might that happen? Probably a few.

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Take Nashville, for instance. Brady’s never thrown a pass to Adam Humphries, Jonnu Smith, A.J. Brown or Corey Davis. There will be a learning curve. But there will also be a better offensive line, a more potent running game (especially if the Titans retain Derrick Henry) and one would think 37-year-old offensive coordinator Arthur Smith can see his way clear to letting Brady have a big say.

It’s worth noting that, when the Patriots practiced with the Titans in August, Brady eviscerated their defense with Berrios and Meyers as his main targets that week. That probably left as much of an impression about what Brady is capable of as the Patriots playoff loss last month.

But moving on — even to a franchise that rolls out the reddest of carpets for him — means radical change. The easiest thing in the world for Brady to do would be to shrug his shoulders and come back to the Patriots.

Does he want to come back to a familiar situation where he’s been increasingly uncomfortable?

Or does he want to deal with the unfamiliarity and short-term discomfort because he believes it will feel differently in the end?

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore one of many NFL stars in powerful 'Black Lives Matter' video

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Patriots' Stephon Gilmore one of many NFL stars in powerful 'Black Lives Matter' video

Several of the NFL's biggest stars are stepping up to speak out against systemic racism and the racial injustices that once again have come to light in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore joined up with the New York Giants' Saquon Barkley, Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, Cleveland Browns' Odell Beckham Jr., Arizona Cardinals' DeAndre Hopkins and a number of other high-profile black players to put together a powerful video on Thursday.

In the video, the players reveal what they would like to hear the NFL state about the racial injustices that continue to plague the country.

Watch below:

Hopefully, the league and its fans will hear their message loud and clear.

McCourty twins address Drew Brees' controversial comments, whether they forgive Saints QB

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McCourty twins address Drew Brees' controversial comments, whether they forgive Saints QB

Drew Brees has taken plenty of heat lately due to the comments he made about players "disrespecting the American flag" by kneeling during the national anthem.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback was asked during an interview with Yahoo! Finance about players kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America. Brees answered, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country."

It didn't take long for the veteran QB to get backlash for those insensitive remarks. A number of Brees' NFL peers, including both Devin and Jason McCourty of the New England Patriots, scolded him for his comments.

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On Thursday, the McCourty twins delved deeper into the subject on a special edition of their Double Coverage podcast titled "Bridge To Action." Following an enlightening interview with former FBI special agent M. Quentin Williams, which you can watch below, the McCourtys addressed the Brees situation. 

"Everybody's been in an uproar over Drew Brees' comments, and obviously we've responded on Twitter," said Jason McCourty. "Somebody had asked earlier, 'do we forgive him?' and I don't think any of this thing is about forgiveness. It's not about Drew Brees, it's not about Jason or Devin McCourty, it's about realizing, 'Alright, here's an issue and we need to find a solution for that issue.' Like, you don't have an issue with Drew Brees when he makes those statements. You have an issue with that train of thought, and that thought is what we're trying to move away from.

"So as soon as anyone who has that thought is willing to dive in and learn, and open up dialogue to talk about -- because I think sometimes we subconsciously have thoughts that we don't know we have, and then we say some things that we may have to take some time to go back and self-reflect ... Maybe I need to look inwardly and see like, 'Hey, maybe I'm not looking at this thing the right way. And I think when we're able to do that, there's no animosity or hostility toward anyone because that's not what we're trying to do. It's about there's an issue, and we want to fix this issue."

Devin McCourty doubled down on what his brother had to say and mentioned that he doesn't have anything against Brees. Rather, he hopes this will help the 41-year-old and others like him look at the situation from a different perspective.

"It's not about forgiving or hating," said Devin. "Like, I've never hated Drew Brees. I don't even know Drew Brees. So it was never about that. It was just, how can we get people to now not look through those lenses. And he's a guy who if he doesn't look through those lenses, he can get a lot of other people to feel the same way. So hopefully some good turns out from that."

Brees has since issued an apology for his comments, saying they "lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy."

Beyond the McCourty twins' comments on Brees, their interview with Williams is well worth the watch. Williams is the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Dedication to Community, whose mission is to "empower individuals and communities to achieve their business and societal goals through the spirit of entrepreneurial enterprise and community advocacy. The McCourtys and Williams had a mindful conversation about the recent killings of unarmed black men, the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color, and the next steps to implementing positive change in the United States.