The New England Patriots came up just short of their ultimate goal in 2017 as the team lost Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. In order to get back onto the top of the NFL mountain, the team – on and off the field personnel – will have to quickly turn the page to get into a position to field the best possible team in 2018; one that will be able to once again compete for the world championship.
A big part of creating such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency. And if judged by the list of free agents to be, New England's front office will be busy over the next few weeks. Also over the next few weeks, we will take a look at those free agents to find out who might or might not get re-signed; and who should be a part of the 2018 Patriots. Today, we'll start with wide receiver Danny Amendola.
#80 WR Danny Amendola
2018 opening day age: 32
2017 playing time: 18 games (15 regular season + 3 playoffs); 53.4% offensive snaps
2017 statistics: 87 catches, 1,007 yards, 4 touchdowns; 32 punt returns, 8.8 yards per return
2017 cap number: $3.1 million
After Julian Edelman went down with an injury in August, the team and quarterback Tom Brady turned to Amendola as their go-to wide receiver. The role was a not an entirely new one for the veteran, who had been called upon in high-pressure situations in the past. However, his playing time and by extension statistics changed with Edelman out of the lineup and he was on the field for more than half of the team's offensive snaps.
Amendola made the most out of his increased exposure and delivered one of the best seasons of his career, capped by a spectacular postseason run. The question, though, is just how much the Patriots value the veteran's past contributions when looking forward to the upcoming season and trying to project his impact: Is the 32-year old, who struggled with injuries in the past, worth bringing back especially if he will again be used in a limited role?
Judged by his 2017 season and the fact that Edelman and fellow wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell are coming off injured reserve, the answer should probably still be “yes”. After all, despite getting up there in age, there have been no signs that Amendola will not be able to duplicate his past success and clutch performances. Combined with his experience, versatility, leadership and rapport with Brady, Amendola will likely find himself rather highly on New England's list of priorities.
Projection: Amendola re-signs with the Patriots on a two-year contract worth a total of around $5.0 to $6.0 million – even if he got offered more money elsewhere.