In March 2013, the New England Patriots signed free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola to a five-year, $31 million deal to replace departed wide-out Wes Welker. Things, however, did not work out exactly as planned due to various reasons.
While he did not become the go-to-guy everyone had hoped, Amendola still played an important part in the team's recent Super Bowl run. He caught 11 passes for 137 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Patriots' three postseason games. Even though the 29-year old often played the fourth or fifth fiddle in the regular season, he delivered when the spotlight was cast upon him.
Let us take a closer look at Amendola's 2015 cap numbers.
Amendola's contract – as basically outlined above – is structured in a way that guarantees him $4 million salary to go along with a $1.2 million signing bonus amortization and a $500,000 roster bonus in 2015. Add it all up, and we get a 2015 cap hit of about $5.7 million.
The question that follows, though, is if Danny Amendola is worth it?
Looking at the wide receiver depth chart, the answer is no. Amendola is paid like the team's number one receiver even though he is not. Julian Edelman's 2015 cap hit is $4.7 million, Brandon LaFell's $3.5 million. Both have played more vital roles in the Patriots' offense in 2014 and, barring injury, will continue to do so next year. They are without a question in the team's long-term plans. Amendola, in 2013, was as well. Since getting degraded to the third wide receiver, however, this outlook might have changed – at least at the current price tag.
So, what will the Patriots do?
Miguel Benzan of patscap.com has outlined numerous possibilities in this article ranging from releasing Amendola to re-doing his current deal. The two most intriguing – if the Patriots want to keep the wide receiver around – are the following.
The Patriots might opt to reduce Amendola's $4 million salary via adding different NLTBE (not likely to be earned) incentives. Therefore, the cash he receives would be dependent on, for example, the number of catches, touchdowns or receiving yards. This is nothing unusual, as many players have similar incentives in their deals (Vince Wilfork or Sebastian Vollmer among others). Via this method, Amendola could theoretically still earn up to $4 million in 2015 but it becomes less likely.
Another possibility is completely re-doing the deal. Both the team and the player (and his representatives) might come to the conclusion that an average salary of $5.5 million over the next three years is too much for what Amendola – who is also New England's primary kick-off returner – offers. Thus, the sides might agree on restructuring the contract to lower the salaries and therefore the cap numbers; maybe even sweetening the deal with a signing bonus (which could be spread out over the new contract).
As can be seen, the Patriots have several possibilities if they want to reduce Amendola's cap hit without straight-up releasing him. Will they do it? This has to be seen, but judging by what the coaching staff had to say about Amendola, they like what he brings to the table. Therefore, it would come as no surprise if Danny Amendola remains a Patriot in 2015.
We have seen what the Patriots might choose to do – so how about you? How would you handle Amendola's contract situation in the upcoming weeks?