While free agency will not officially open for the next 24 hours, numerous players are already in the process of changing teams. Among them is New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola: The veteran is expected to sign a two-year, $12 million deal with the Miami Dolphins once the open market opens.
Let’s find out what this means for the Patriots:
Tom Brady loses one of his most dependable and clutch targets
Over his five seasons in New England, Danny Amendola was able to enter the inner circle of quarterback Tom Brady's trusted targets. He did so by performing whenever his number was called and thus earned a reputation as one of the NFL's best clutch performers. Time and again, Amendola made plays when plays needed to be made – a trait the team certainly will miss moving forward, especially in up-tempo situations and on third and fourth down.
The Patriots need a new punt returner
While he made most of his plays as a slot receiver, Amendola also was a regular on special teams: The 32-year old served as the Patriots' primary punt returner over the last two seasons and in 2017 ran back 32 punts for a very good average of 8.8 yards per return. New England needs to find away to replace this production moving forward and the dependability that Amendola brought to the position.
The Patriots still have very good wide receiver depth
When it comes to the above-mentioned dependability in the clutch, Amendola is not easily replaced. However, the Patriots are in a solid position to fill the void he will create upon his exodus: Brandin Cooks should continue to get more comfortable in New England's offense, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt will finally get a full offseason with the team, and Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell are all expected to be fully healthy once workouts start. The depth to replace Amendola and what he brought to the table is already on the team.
New England has one less re-signing to worry about
On the positive side, losing Amendola gives the Patriots one less free agent to worry about and by extension more money to allocate elsewhere. After all, the team still needs to re-sign its number one priority, starting left tackle Nate Solder. Had Amendola returned on a deal even close to what the Dolphins will reportedly pay him – $12 million over two years with $8.25 million in guarantees –, the team would have had a hard time keeping some other free agents in the fold.
Amendola will be part of the NFL’s compensation formula
With Amendola leaving to join the Dolphins, his above-mentioned contract will become part of the NFL's compensation formula: The process is meant to make up for a team's free agency losses by awarding up to four draft picks (starting at the end of round three) depending on the net total. If the Patriots lose more or pricier free agents than other teams, they will certainly receive additional 2019 selections – and Amendola will now become a part of this formula.
After taking back-to-back-to-back pay cuts with the Patriots, Danny Amendola certainly earned his payday. And all in all, his tenure in New England was still quite successful even though he did not exactly become Wes Welker 2.0. In the end, though, the veteran became something his predecessor did not: Super Bowl champion.