Last year around this time, we published an article with the same title as this one. In the 2015 version of the article, we presented various scenarios how the New England Patriots could potentially lower Danny Amendola’s $5.7 million cap hit for the 2015 season.
One of those scenarios did indeed take place: the Patriots and Amendola agreed to a contract restructure to lower the wide receiver’s cap number to a more reasonable $3.1 million. This was done by cutting Amendola’s salary (from $4.0 million to $1.25 million) while also adding a $500,000 signing bonus spread out over the remaining three years of the contract and added to his original $6.0 million signing bonus proration.
Because of the restructure, Amendola remained a Patriot in 2015 and had arguably his most consistent year since joining the team: in 14 regular season, he caught 65 passes for 648 yards and 3 touchdowns, becoming the team’s number one wide receiver during Julian Edelman’s injury-related absence. The 30-year old added another 7 receptions for 57 yards in the playoffs.
However, also because of the restructure, Amendola once again faces an uncertain future in New England.
First, let’s take a closer look at his contract to find out why. Amendola’s cap hit for the 2016 season is $6.8 million, the highest number among the Patriots' offensive skill position players. This hit is the sum of his $5.0 million salary, $1.3 million signing bonus proration and $437.000 roster bonus. Of the three, only the signing bonus is a fully guaranteed cap hit, which means that the Patriots could save around $3.5 million against their 2016 cap (and all of his $7.9 million 2017 number) by cutting the wide receiver.
The question is: would cutting Amendola be an option for the Patriots?
Given his 2015 performance and the fact that he has developed into one of Tom Brady’s most trusted targets, it is hard to see the team move on from Amendola. However, his cap hit paired with the contract extension signed by fellow wideout Keshawn Martin could be an indicator that New England would be willing to part ways with Amendola if no contractual common ground can be reached over the course of the offseason.
What could this common ground be? One possibility could be extending Amendola’s contract by adding an option-based year in 2018. By doing this, the team could lower the salaries of both 2016 and 2017 while adding more wiggle-room for yet another signing bonus proration. However, due to Amendola’s age and Martin’s contract extension, this scenario seems unlikely.
The most plausible one, therefore, is the scenario outlined by Miguel Benzan of patscap.com: the team could lower Amendola’s cap number – to properly reflect his position on New England’s receiver depth chart – by once again restructuring the deal via cutting down on Amendola’s $5.0 million salary. To give the receiver motivation to sign the restructure, the Patriots could add incentives to give him the ability to potentially re-earn some of the cut-down money. Those incentives could be based on statistics like catches or touchdowns or based on playing time and snap numbers.
Basically, it seems as if Amendola’s best chance to play in New England in 2016 is agreeing to another contract restructure to lower his salary and thus cap hit. This would ensure that the top of the team’s receiving depth chart would stay intact another year, while giving the player another season of financial security.
Given all that we know, it seems probable that the Patriots and Danny Amendola work out another restructure to make sure one of Brady’s favorite weapons stays in Foxboro.
What would you do if you were a member New England’s front office or Amendola’s representatives? Let us know in the comments.