Danny Amendola went from replacing Wes Welker to possibly being replaced in the span of under 12 months.
According to Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report, NFL teams say Amendola's name "has been floated in trade talks," and Pompei adds that there has been "speculation" that the Patriots could release him if he's not dealt. Whether the Patriots are the team floating his name, or whether other teams are inquiring about his trade value, remains unclear.
The Patriots signed Amendola to a five-year, $28.5 million deal last offseason, but Amendola suffered a groin injury in Week 1 and a concussion in Week 6, and was never able to get on track. Injuries have plagued Amendola at every turn, and the 28-year-old veteran has played just 24 games in the past three seasons, including just one game in 2011.
He caught 54 passes for 633 yards and two touchdowns last year — lower totals than those he put up with Rams quarterback Sam Bradford in the 2010 and 2012 seasons. He still finished second on the Patriots in 2013 in both receptions and yards.
According to Miguel Benzan of PatsCap.com, the Patriots could free up $2.88 million in salary cap room by cutting him prior to March 11 at 4:00 p.m. and making him a June 2 designation. They would lose $645,000 in cap space by trading him.
The questions lie not just in Amendola's ability to stay healthy and be productive, and the ramifications extend beyond his salary cap hit if cut or traded. After another injury-plagued season, and with his cap hit, it seems hard to believe that the Patriots could get what they would think is reasonable value for Amendola.
The Patriots may have to bite the bullet on one more year of Amendola, but he could become much easier to trade after the 2014 season if he is productive — and if not, his cap numbers make him easier to release. Amendola will count for $5.575 million against the cap in 2015, but the Patriots could save roughly $1.975 million of that by cutting him, according to sports contracts and salary database Spotrac.
This could potentially be good news for Julian Edelman, who is just 10 days away from hitting the open market as a free agent. The Patriots may be more likely to fork over the necessary cash to keep Edelman, especially if they feel the end is in sight with Amendola. Perhaps the Patriots would even be willing to invest in both Amendola and Edelman — despite their similar styles as a player — for one year to bridge them over to a point where they can more comfortably move on from Amendola.
Only time will tell.
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