One of the New England Patriots' most noteworthy free agency losses was veteran wide receiver Danny Amendola. Coming off his most productive season since joining the team in 2013 and an outstanding postseason run that culminated in an eight-catch, 152-yard performance in the Super Bowl, Amendola signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Miami Dolphins – a contract apparently too big for the Patriots' liking.
Amendola, in a recent talk with ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, agreed that New England's offer to re-sign the 32-year old was not a competitive one when compared to others he received: “When free agency broke, I came to the realization that [Bill Belichick] wasn’t going to really come close to any of the other offers I had,” Amendola told Reiss. “I had to make a decision for my family and go down to Miami and continue my career there.”
The former undrafted free agent, who spent the last five years with the Patriots, also spoke about him entering the open market for the first time since signing a five-year, $28.5 million contract with New England in 2013: “I came in with an open mind,” Amendola said about the prospects of re-signing with the team with which he won two Super Bowl rings. “I understand Bill runs a tight ship, and he hasn’t been known to pay his players, really.”
“I understood that I gave money back to him so I could play for him and play for my teammates and fulfill my side of the contract, and at the end of the day, I had faith that he was going to give me an opportunity to stay,” continued Amendola, referring to restructuring his contract each offseason from 2015 through 2017. However, the Patriots still were unwilling and/or unable to give him a deal close to what the Dolphins offered.
Amendola also opened up about playing under head coach Bill Belichick, who he called the best to ever coach the game. “It’s not easy, that’s for sure. He’s an a-hole sometimes,” Amendola said about the fifth head coach he played for in the NFL. “There were a lot of things I didn’t like about playing for him. But, I must say, the things I didn’t like were all in regards to getting the team better, and I respected him.”
“I didn’t like practicing in the snow, I didn’t like practicing in the rain, but that was going to make us a better football team and that was going to make me a better football player,” the Texas Tech product continued. “It wasn’t easy, and he’d be the first to admit, at the [Super Bowl] ring ceremony, that it wasn’t easy playing for him. The silver lining was that we were at the ring ceremony.”
This year, of course, there will be no such ceremony in New England as the team lost Super Bowl 52 against the Philadelphia Eagles – a game in which no player had more receiving yards than Amendola. One reason for the team's ultimate demise was the defense's inability to come up with crucial stops when they were needed. It is no stretch of the imagination that the benching of starting cornerback Malcolm Butler for reasons still unknown played a role in that.
Amendola also spoke to Reiss about what is one of the most controversial decisions of Belichick’s tenure as Patriots head coach. "I have my thoughts about it because I was out there putting my blood, sweat and tears out on the field that night, and one of our best players wasn’t on the field," Amendola said about the Super Bowl. "To tell you the truth, I don’t know why. I did ask, but I didn’t get any answers."
"Nobody really got an explanation for it," Amendola continued. "He’s a brother of ours. He was a brother of ours that year. And I hate to see a guy who worked so hard throughout the season not get a chance to play in the biggest game of the year and really get no explanation for it. With that said, I don’t know how the business aspect went into that decision. I don’t know how the personal aspect went into that decision between him and Bill. But as a friend, I would have loved to see him on the field that day."
Considering the game’s ultimate outcome, all of New England would probably have loved to see Butler on the field versus Philadelphia. Alas, it did not happen and thus Amendola’s final game in a Patriots uniform ended in defeat. But despite the ending, though, his tenure in New England was a highly successful one for both player and team.