Danny Amendola leaving the New England Patriots was one of the most surprising moves of the NFL offseason. He was seen as a staple of the franchise’s offensive philosophy, which is based around slot receivers and stretching the field horizontally rather than vertically. He had taken pay cuts to remain with the team in the past, but with his career coming to a close and a lucrative offer waiting for him with the Miami Dolphins, Amendola decided to cash in while he had the chance and join his former division rival rather than chase anymore Super Bowl rings.
It has been less than a week since he made that choice, but so far, he isn’t looking back, saying in a Twitter welcome video posted by the Dolphins account that “It feels great. I’ve played a lot of games against the Dolphins and I have a lot of respect for the organization and I’m really happy to be a part of it and get started” and “They’re tough, they play hard, they’re well-coached and it’s a blessing to be a part of something like that.”
Now, Amendola figures to join an offense that has some structural similarities to the one he is used to in New England. Kenny Stills is the team’s deep threat, much like Brandin Cooks. DeVante Parker is a more well-rounded receiver like Chris Hogan. He’ll even share the slot like he used to with Julian Edelman, except his new partner in crime will be Albert Wilson. Amendola loves the group he is joining, saying that he has “been watching a lot of those guys play for a long time in college, they play hard, they play fast, they’re strong, well-rounded players. I’m excited to be a part of the group.”
The Patriots are hoping that Edelman’s return next season fills the void left behind by Amendola, but they have taken steps to ensure that their offense doesn’t miss a beat. They traded for Cordarrelle Patterson from the Oakland Raiders, a former first round pick at receiver who has become a very good kick-returner. He is not Amendola in style or substance, but he does have utility to offer the Patriots as they adjust to their restructured roster. Tom Brady will miss Amendola, but he has lost better teammates in the past without missing a beat. Amendola shouldn’t be an exception.
In fact, given Amendola’s durability concerns, Brady should be plenty used to playing without him already. He missed 13 regular season games during his time with the Patriots, and the Dolphins won’t have nearly the leeway to rest Amendola that New England did. The Patriots are typically so far ahead in the standings that they can be cautious with their injured players. The Dolphins don’t have that luxury. They signed Amendola expecting him to play 16 games. Whether or not he does so will likely determine the true value of this contract.