While Danny Amendola has made clutch play after clutch play for the Patriots in their past two runs to the Super Bowl, his time with New England might very well be up.
Currently, Amendola is due to make 6.5 million in 2017, and he ranks fourth out of all Patriots in terms of cap hit, counting 7.8 million against the cap. Trailing only Brady (14M), Nate Solder (11.2M), and Devin McCourty (10.9M), Amendola is scheduled to count more against the cap than fellow receivers Julian Edelman (5.8M) and Chris Hogan (3M), not to mention Rob Gronkowski (6.8M). Because of this, there is a 0% chance Amendola remains on the roster with his current contract, so the Patriots can choose to either restructure his contract or release him.
Amendola has restructured his contract the past two offseason’s, so it remains to be seen if he would be willing to take a pay cut for the third straight year. Following a first restructure in March of 2015 that took 2.3 million off his deal, Amendola made about 2.7 million for the 2015 season, and after another restructure in May of last year that cut his salary by 4.4 million, Amendola made just 1.5 million in 2016.
In 2017, not a penny of Amendola’s salary is guaranteed, so it seems like accepting another restructure that would pay him about the same figure as he played for in 2016 (1.5M) would probably be his best option, seeing as that would most likely be as much as he could garner on the open market anyway. However, whether the Patriots would rather just release Amendola over restructuring his contract is anyone’s guess. If they were to cut Amendola, the Patriots could save 6.4 million against the cap, a pretty significant figure even in an offseason where the Patriots possess abundant cap space. (Mike D note — maybe give some of that dough to Edelman!)
After all, even taking into consideration his postseason heroics, we are talking about a receiver who only had 23 receptions this season, and has missed six games over the past two years and 32 games in his eight seasons in the NFL.
At this point in his Patriots tenure, Amendola is clearly the fourth receiver on the depth chart, seeing as in the 11 games that both Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell suited up, Mitchell outsnapped Amendola in 10 of those games. The rookie Mitchell even outsnapped Amendola in the first four games of his career, a sign the Patriots clearly viewed Mitchell as a better option than Amendola even when Mitchell had yet to step on an NFL field.
Would the Patriots rather take the extra cap space to use for contracts for free agents Dont’a Hightower and Malcolm Butler or extensions for players with contracts expiring in the near future over bringing Amendola back again? That is too difficult a question for anyone outside of the Patriots organization to answer with much confidence, but if I were to guess, I would say that Amendola ends up in New England once again in 2017, and hopefully makes some more clutch plays in yet another postseason run.