New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola has 199 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns in his postseason games this year, playing at the level everyone had hoped he could reach when he signed back in 2013.
Amendola was expected to take the place of Wes Welker in the Patriots offense, but lost out to Julian Edelman due to a stretch of injuries. Still, Amendola has 2,968 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns in his five years with the Patriots (including the postseason), which is still solid production.
All three of those players, along with Troy Brown, have held down the slot receiver position for the Patriots in various forms. Brown and Edelman offered a little more vertical ability and split their time inside and outside, while Welker and Amendola almost entirely operated out of the slot, but this quartet of receivers have served as Tom Brady’s safety blanket during his entire career.
“I think that position in our offense, that slot receiver position has been really one of the strengths of our offense since I got here,” Brady said on Wednesday. “A lot of offenses have changed over the years, I think ours has evolved quite a bit. They obviously evolve with the skill sets of the players that we have. And all those players were very unique.
“I mean, Troy Brown had a certain skill set that was incredible. To get Wes Welker at the time that we did, I mean, one of my best friends and one of the greatest players, I think, ever to play the receiver position. And then Julian [Edelman] to come in and for him to do what he’s done. And for Danny to come in and have some experience in the league and then just have an incredible career for us.
“It just really speaks to those guys, what their mental toughness is, what their approach to the game is, their love for the game, and I’m just so impressed with those guys. All of them were very unique and they’ve just been great players for our team.”
Amendola’s 199 yards from scrimmage represent the 20th most for a single postseason run in Patriots playoff history, with Edelman holding the record with 356 yards from scrimmage in last season’s run. Edelman is actually the only player in franchise history to have multiple playoff runs with 300+ yards from scrimmage, having reached 300 yards exactly in the 2014 postseason.
“[Edelman’s] one of my great friends and someone I have so much respect for that does things the right way, works so hard,” Brady said with a smile. “He was a guy that no one thought could do anything in the NFL and we brought him in and he’s taken advantage of every opportunity he’s gotten.”
Brown gained 244 yards during the Patriots Super Bowl run in 2001, while Welker reached 226 yards and 248 yards in 2007 and 2012, respectively. Amendola could surpass both with a strong Super Bowl showing.
The only other player in Patriots postseason history to be as consistently great as these slot receivers is tight end Rob Gronkowski, who surpassed 200 yards in his three healthy playoff runs and who coincidentally runs over half of his receiving routes out of the slot.
Amendola should be a large part of the Patriots gameplan against the Eagles man coverage defense and will have every opportunity to produce.
It’s also worth noting that Amendola is 32 years old and will be a free agent after this season. Julian Edelman is coming back from a torn ACL and will also be 32 years old. The Patriots moved on from Wes Welker when he was 32 years old and so it’s fair to question the future of the slot receiver position in New England and when the team will find the slot receiver of the future.
Dolphins slot receiver Jarvis Landry is a free agent and is in line for a huge contract deal, while the Falcons’ Taylor Gabriel and Chiefs’ Albert Wilson are free agents that could be signed for much less. The Steelers’ Eli Rogers is a restricted free agent, but will definitely be on the Patriots radar.