A PERSPECTIVE FROM ST LOUIS . . . .
Should the Rams Really Risk Re-Signing Oft-Injured WR Danny Amendola?
(NFC WEST LEAD WRITER)
ON MARCH 7, 2013
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For the sake of everyone's health, let's just be happy that the start of free agency is only five days away. Since the beginning of February until now, it seems as if every potential big-name free agent has been talked about 100 times over as they are linked to a 100 different teams.
Yet outside the St. Louis media market, wide receiver Danny Amendola hasn't received that same treatment. I've seen him linked to a total of three teams, the Rams,49ers and Patriots. Which really makes me think about this year's quote, unquote "weak" free-agent wide receiver class.
Are teams slowly becoming more and more like the Pittsburgh Steelers of the world by focusing on building through the draft and not overspending on free agents? Because you see it every year—there's always that one organization that just goes hog wild and signs every high-dollar free agent possible.
Or are potential free agents just not drumming up interest because of the tight cap implications so many teams are dealing with? We truly won't know until the opening bell sounds on March 12, but one thing we do know is that St. Louis is one of those organizations that will need every ounce of salary cap space possible to keep a couple of its own and potentially sign one or two newcomers.
Leading me to my next question: Should Les Snead and Jeff Fisher do whatever it takes to re-sign Sam Bradford's favorite target? Less than a month ago, I said yes, at the right price, but now with potential competitors driving the price up on the Rams, I say no.
Obviously, the most alarming issue when it comes to Amendola is his extensive injury history. One year (2010) after leading the NFL in all-purpose yards and the Rams in receiving yards, the former Texas Tech Red Raider was injured for the entirety of the season on the team's 40th offensive snap.
At the time, St. Louis was trying to mount an unprecedented comeback againstPhiladelphia, but any momentum garnered during its comeback attempt stopped after his injury. Initially, it was believed that Amendola had broken his arm after awkwardly landing on it, yet later on, after further examination, it was revealed that he had actually dislocated his elbow—a gruesome injury to say the least.
There was hope within the Rams front office that No. 16 would return late in the season. However, that thought quickly dissipated when Amendola had a setback while rehabbing his elbow. It's probably for the better anyway, considering St. Louis' record was in the tank and the team had zero shot of making the playoffs.
Before the 2012 season started, the 5'11'' wideout vowed to come back better than ever. Through the first four games of the season, it appeared as if he was keeping his word, but then Thursday Night Football happened.
For the second straight year, Amendola was going to miss an extended portion of the season due to an upper extremity injury. Sure, he didn't miss 15 games like in 2011, but he missed a quarter of the season after being diagnosed with a possible life-threatening collarbone injury. I know it doesn't sound all that logical, but Jay Glazer of Fox Sports does a great job of breaking it down in the video below.
In addition to all of the injury hubbub, the fourth-year wide receiver simply doesn't have the numbers to back up the mega payday some feel he deserves. He has never amassed more than 689 yards receiving in a season or more than three touchdowns. In 42 career games, he has gained 1,726 yards, caught 196 passes and scored seven touchdowns.
By analyzing those numbers, you realize he only averages 41 yards a game, four catches and his probability of catching a touchdown pass is around 16 percent. These are not exactly numbers that would put him into an elite category.
Fans and media members alike have enjoyed overvaluing Amendola for one simple reason. He has been a standout player on an offense that has been wide-receiver starved since The Greatest Show on Turf left town. Not to mention the fact that the highest the Rams have finished on offense since his arrival in 2009 is 23rd.
Surely, that's not his fault. He doesn't have any control over who St. Louis brings in during the offseason. But take a minute to think about it, who has been his biggest internal competition? The answer to that question may upset your stomach, but ultimately it has been Brandon Gibson through the years.
This year your answer could change to Chris Givens, given the fact he led the team in receiving yards and yards per reception. If you reflect back on the days of Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo, you can confidently say that they successfully added one playmaker to the wide receiving corp in three years.
Any guesses as to who the one playmaking upgrade was? If you guessed Brandon Lloyd, you hit the nail on the head. Outside of him, the most dynamic addition was Amendola himself. For a guy who has only found the end zone seven times and has a career long catch of 56 yards, that's not saying much.
Don't get me wrong, there is some playmaking ability in his body, but it just doesn't show up enough on tape to warrant $6 million annually. Shoot, I don't even feel as if he deserves $4 million annually. There are plenty of veteran wide receivers who have stayed healthy and turned in better performances, while making a lot less than that.
Yet, that's the overall nature of the market. A buyer's market always dictates the price. As they say, the beauty lies within the eye of the beholder. Which team is going to fall in love with Amendola when he is making the free-agent rounds?
Will it be the Patriots, or will it be the 49ers? That remains to be seen, but for the sake of the Rams and their future, they just need to walk away. Every year since he joined their organization, they have gotten the better end of the deal because of his contract.
Let someone else pay his second contract. Snead and Fisher have already proven they are fine evaluators of talent, so finding his replacement shouldn't be too monumental of a task whether that's in free agency or the draft.
I realize amongst some this may not be a popular opinion, but no matter which way you slice it, it's the most logical decision all things considered. Gone are the days of 8-8 being acceptable, the new regime in place holds itself to a higher standard—and so should Rams fans by wanting a wideout who offers the complete package.