Third time’s the charm yet again for the New England Patriots as it relates to the contract of wide receiver Danny Amendola. For the third straight offseason, the 31-year old has agreed to restructure his deal to stay with the Patriots, who in turn save money while keeping one of their most experienced offensive weapons in the fold.
Let’s take a closer look at the restructure to find out what it means for both the player and the team.
Amendola values stability more than money.
As noted above, Amendola has already redone his contract two prior times. His past two restructures have cost him around $5.2 million; needless to say that the newest will add to this number. However, it has become clear that the veteran places a stable environment above monetary gains. And why would he not? After all, Amendola has still earned over $15.0 million since joining the Patriots in 2013 (not to mention any endorsement money).
Furthermore, he is on a team that perfectly utilizes his skill set. By using him as a late down and red zone specialist, the team can keep him fresh while taking advantage of his abilities as a route runner and catcher of the football. Look no further than Super Bowl LI, where he made three of the game’s biggest plays.
The wide receiver depth chart appears set...
While the restructure does not guarantee him a spot on the Patriots’ 2017 roster, the chances of Amendola remaining a part of the team’s receiving corps for yet another season look very good. Consequently, it appears likely that all of the team’s 2016 wideouts will be back in 2017.
Add offseason acquisition Brandin Cooks to the incoming core of Amendola, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell and New England will have a deep and versatile group for Tom Brady to play with. A group that that has – with the natural exception of former New Orleans Saint Cooks – proven its chemistry with the Hall of Fame quarterback.
...but that doesn’t mean the Patriots will not draft one.
During his press conference yesterday, New England’s director of player personnel Nick Caserio pointed out that the team’s goal for the draft is to add talented players – the position they play is secondary in this regard. Therefore, the wide receiver position might still be on the Patriots’ radar even though Amendola will likely be back in 2017.
Given that Amendola, Edelman and Hogan will both be on the wrong side of 30 by November, it makes sense to add youth to the position. Mitchell and Cooks are the first step towards making the wide receivers younger, and New England might take another one during the draft.
Cyrus Jones might not have to carry the load as a kick returner in 2017.
The Patriots do not only use Amendola on offense, he also sees regular playing time on special teams. The veteran returned both punts and kickoffs in 2016 – albeit not on a full-time basis – and will likely resume this role next season. This also means that New England keeps a reliable option for the kicking game.
As a result, Cyrus Jones might not be asked to carry the load as a returner in 2017. The Patriots’ 2016 second round draft pick struggled in this capacity during his rookie campaign and fumbled on four of his 19 kick returns. Thus, keeping Amendola means keeping a high-quality insurance option in case Jones does not evolve as a return man or the team wants to rebuild his confidence via not letting him bring back kicks.
New England adds to its salary cap space – for now.
While the details of the restructure have not yet been made public, it is projected to substantially lower Amendola’s salary cap hit of $7.79 million. As a result, the Patriots will add to their current salary cap space of $19.6 million (per patscap.com) – at least for now.
After all, the team has been busy doing transactions yesterday that impact the cap: It signed restricted free agent running back to an offer sheet worth $4.0 million in 2017 and also extended running back James White. Until the final numbers all become official, we are left to speculate but it is safe to say that because of Amendola’s restructure the other two moves will not significantly lower New England’s salary cap space.