This move was made last month, but I didn’t originally grade it because I thought it was just a pure pay cut. I don’t grade pure pay cuts because there’s no downside for a team involved so it’s a pretty boring grade. However, it does appear that Amendola was given some guarantees as part of this restructure, whereas originally he didn’t have any money guaranteed in any of the final 3 years of his contract, so there is some evaluating to be done.
This deal is worth a maximum of 14.25 million over 3 years, but it can essentially be seen as a 1-year, 2.25 million dollar prove it deal as there isn’t anything guaranteed beyond the first year. In fact, all that’s guaranteed is a 500K signing bonus, though it seems like a fairly safe bet that Amendola will be in New England in 2015 as the #3 receiver behind Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell and collecting around 2.25 million (some of that money is in the form of per game roster bonuses so it’s possible it could be slightly less). However, if he continues to struggle, the Patriots can get out of the remaining 2 years and 12 million of the contract after the season without owing him anything more.
Amendola was signed by the Patriots to a 5-year, 28.5 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago to be the long-term replacement for Wes Welker. That didn’t happen, though fortunately for the Patriots, Julian Edelman became what they were expecting Amendola to become. Amendola missed 4 games with injury in 2013 and, though he played all 16 games in 2014, he struggled mightily overall. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 93rd ranked wide receiver out of 110 eligible on 466 snaps.
He did play well down the stretch though, catching 27 passes for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns in the final 7 games of the season, including the playoffs. That gave the Patriots hope that Amendola could bounce back in 2015 and become the player who averaged 2.04 yards per route run in 2012 with the Rams, which is why they gave him this new deal. It’s a long shot for a guy who is already going into his age 30 season and who has an extensive injury history, but this isn’t a terrible deal. This restructure saves them more on the cap than an outright cut would have, as a cut would have saved them 2.1 million, while this saves them 2.5 million, at least for 2015. If they cut him next off-season, 2.73 million of dead money will be added to their cap for 2016, but the Patriots are still in win now mode with a soon to be 38-year-old quarterback so it makes sense in that sense.