Danny Amendola

Contract Details: Collins, Morse, Graham

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts from around the NFL:

  • Landon Collins, S (Redskins): Six years, $84MM deal, $45MM guaranteed. $15MM signing bonus, $6MM option bonus for 2024 (exercised between first and fifth of 2020). Deal includes $32MM guaranteed over the first two seasons. $5MM of his 2021 salary is guaranteed at signing. Salaries: $1MM (2019), $10MM (2020), $12.5MM (2021), $11.5MM (2022), $12.5MM (2023), $13.5MM (2024). All Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, and ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
  • Mitch Morse, C (Bills): Four years, $44.5MM, $26.5MM guaranteed (original story). Receives $19.5MM in 2019, $28.375MM in 2020. Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero.
  • Brandon Graham, DE (Eagles): Three years, $40MM. $23.5MM guaranteed. $12.5MM signing bonus. Salary: $1MM (2019), $10MM (2020). Team option for 2021: $13MM salary and $3.5MM option bonus. Twitter link via Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic.
  • Danny Amendola, WR (Lions): One year, $4.5MM. $4.25MM fully guaranteed. $250K in per-game roster bonuses, $1.25MM in incentives. Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
  • Tyler Kroft, TE (Bills): Three years, $18.75MM. $8.3MM guaranteed, $2.4MM signing bonus. Will earn $1.8MM salary in 2019, $4.45MM in 2020. Roster bonuses include $2.1MM (2019), $750K (2020), $750K (2021). Twitter links via Wilson and ESPN’s Mike Rodak.

Lions Sign Danny Amendola

The Lions have signed free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola, the team announced. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that it will be a one-year pact with a guaranteed base salary of $4.5MM. The deal also includes incentives that could push Amendola’s earnings up to $5.75MM.

Amendola, 33, was released by the Dolphins a few days ago after one year in South Beach. He posted 579 yards and one touchdown for the Fins, and he should be a solid addition to a strong group of skill players in Detroit. Although there was some mutual interest in a reunion between Amendola and Patriots, Amendola will be reuniting with several familiar faces from his days in New England in head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn.

Amendola offers a reliable slot target to complement Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay on the outside, and he comes at a lower price than other free agent options like Adam Humphries and Jamison Crowder. He is also considerably older and may not have as much upside as either of those players, but the Lions are expected to be very active in free agency and wanted to get out in front of the receiver market, which is expected to once again be quite robust.

Indeed, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets that the Lions will be players at the top of the pass rush market, which is what they may now focus on after securing a serviceable replacement for Golden Tate, who was traded to Philadelphia last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Interested In Amendola Reunion?

Danny Amendola‘s Dolphins tenure lasted one season, and a report indicated the veteran wide receiver was interested in rejoining the Patriots. It appears the defending Super Bowl champions are open to that.

The Patriots have interest in bringing Amendola back, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (on Twitter).

New England’s wideout situation features extensive uncertainty. Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett are free agents, and Josh Gordon — an RFA, were he to be reinstated again — cannot be counted on to come back at this point. Julian Edelman delivered another productive season, culminating in a dominant playoff stretch, but will be 33 next season.

The Patriots would be interested in a Dorsett return, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, but the team does not appear to be eyeing a bigger role for the former first-round pick. Should another team view Dorsett in a better light, Reiss expects the four-year veteran to leave New England.

Amendola will turn 34 this year and was not especially consistent for the Patriots. But he came up big in some key moments, including in his final playoff run with the Pats.

Last season, Amendola caught 59 passes for 575 yards and one touchdown. The Dolphins gave him a two-year, $12MM deal, which they scrubbed from their books earlier this week. Another Patriots contract would not be for that much, but given Amendola’s experience with the team, it would be logical the Pats could pursue him to fill in as an auxiliary weapon on a lower-end deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins To Release Danny Amendola

Another veteran will be departing the Dolphins. They are releasing Danny Amendola, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

Parting ways with the veteran wide receiver will create $6MM in cap room for Miami, which will be hit with no dead-money charges. The 33-year-old target is the latest Dolphins veteran to receive his walking papers.

Amendola also has interest in rejoining the Patriots, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (on Twitter). The Dolphins and Amendola’s agent went through discussions about keeping him in Miami, per Rapoport (via Twitter), but a release will take place anyway.

Amendola signed a two-year, $12MM deal with the Dolphins in 2018. He functioned as an every-week starter for a Dolphins team riddled with receiver injuries, posting 579 receiving yards and catching one touchdown pass. But even as former Patriots assistant Brian Flores takes over, along with former Pats wideouts coach-turned-Fins OC Chad O’Shea, the longtime New England wideout will head for free agency.

This cut will bump the Dolphins’ salary cap space north of $23MM, but they plan on adding significantly to that figure before free agency opens.

The 10-year veteran was rumored to be one of the players the rebuilding Dolphins were targeting for release, along with Ryan Tannehill‘s lofty salary. They have already cut Andre Branch and Ted Larsen. Miami is rumored to be set to release Josh Sitton and DeVante Parker as well, also dangling Robert Quinn in trade offers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Amendola, Cowboys, Giants, Dez, Jonathan Allen

After playing five seasons with the Patriots, receiver Danny Amendola signed with the rival Dolphins in the 2018 offseason. The move happened, in part, because New England did not come close to matching the two-year, $12MM deal he received from Miami, the receiver told Jimmy Hascup of USA Today.

After taking pay cuts in the past to stay with the Patriots, the veteran wideout was expecting to have a chance to stay with the team. That did not happen with the notoriously stingy Bill Belichick.

“When free agency broke, I came to the realization that he wasn’t going to really come close to any of the other offers I had,” Amendola said. “I had to make a decision for my family and go down to Miami and continue my career there.”

Amendola also commented on playing for Belichick, saying, “It’s not easy, that’s for sure. He’s an (expletive) sometimes,” Amendola said. “There were a lot of things I didn’t like about playing for him, but I must say, the things I didn’t like were all in regards to getting the team better, and I respected him.”

Here’s more from around the East:

  • The Cowboys will be looking for a new go-to receiver after the departure of Dez Bryant. One of those candidates is Terrance Williams, who will be ready for work in June after recovering from a broken foot earlier in the offseason, ESPN’s Todd Archer writes. Though he will be ready to go, Williams is best used as a No. 2 or 3 wideout due to his inconsistency.
  • Speaking of Bryant, the receiver reportedly left his meeting with Jerry Jones saying he would see the team twice next season. If he is going to join a division foe, the Giants seem like an unlikely spot, SportsNet New York’s Ralph Vacchiano writes. The team’s depth at receiver with Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shephard seems to indicate there is no room for Bryant.
  • The Redskins are expected to have defensive tackle Jonathan Allen when the team resumes activities next week, NBC Sports’ JP Finlay writes. He suffered a Lisfranc injury in Week 5 of 2017 and did not play the rest of the season. A healthy Allen could helped Washington improve on its last-ranked run defense in 2017.

AFC Notes: Patriots, Amendola, Broncos, Browns

Similar to many draft pundits, Bill Belichick is also participating in his own mock drafts. Yesterday, the Patriots head coach provided some insight into the organization’s draft preparation to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe.

“Sometimes we do that, yeah,” Belichick said about mock drafts. “I’d say sometimes it just sparks a conversation. We might internally say, ‘OK, how about Player A and Player B? Player B and Player C?’ And if you did a mock draft where kind of each [staffer] has a team and, ‘OK, it’s your turn. You pick this.’ And now you look at the board, it’s our turn to pick, and ‘Gee, here’s a scenario we hadn’t really thought about. We hadn’t really pictured that this guy would be there.’ So that can kind of stimulate some [conversation].”

Belichick also explained the risks of not evaluating many of the potential prospects.

“Again, it’s just an exercise to, I’d say, just kind of complete the process of preparation,” he explained. “That’s the way it is on draft day, too. A lot of times you’re sitting there looking at players that I thought this player would be there and he’s long gone, or I didn’t think this player would be there and he’s still there…If you haven’t done enough work on the player and he’s still there but you really don’t know the player as well as you should because you thought he wouldn’t be there, then that puts you in a little bit of a dilemma.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes out of the AFC…

  • Wide receiver Danny Amendola told ESPN’s Mike Reiss that the Patriots‘ offer didn’t come close to the two-year, $12MM ($8.25MM guaranteed) deal he took with the Dolphins. “I came in with an open mind,” Amendola said. “I understand Bill runs a tight ship, and he hasn’t been known to pay his players, really. I understood that I gave money back to him so I could play for him and play for my teammates and fulfill my side of the contract, and at the end of the day, I had faith that he was going to give me an opportunity to stay. When free agency broke, I came to the realization that he wasn’t going to really come close to any of the other offers I had. I had to make a decision for my family and go down to Miami and continue my career there.”
  • The Broncos claimed C.J. Smith from the Browns yesterday, and Mike Klis of 9News in Denver writes that the team has had interest in the cornerback for some time. The organization had been eyeing Smith since his days at North Dakota State, and they expressed interest in him when he wasn’t selected during the 2016 draft. The 24-year-old initially joined the Eagles before signing with the Browns’ practice squad.
  • The Browns have named Larry Jackson as their new head of strength and conditioning, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Jackson had previously served as Texas A&M’s director of football sports performance, and he also served as the school’s NFL liaison. He’ll be replacing Adam Beard, who will stick around the organization in an advisory role. The Browns have also added Dale Jones and Monty Gibson as assistants, and they’ve retained Evan Marcus and Josh Christovich.

Dolphins To Sign WR Danny Amendola

Danny Amendola is staying in the AFC East, but he’ll do so with a different team. The Patriots free agent has agreed to sign with the Dolphins, according to NFL Network’s Dan Hellie (on Twitter). Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald (on Twitter) has confirmed the news. It’s a two-year deal worth $12MM with $8.25MM guaranteed, according to Peter Schrager of NFL.com (on Twitter). Schrager notes that the deal includes incentives, but it’s not immediately clear if those incentives are factored into the $12MM figure.

Amendola was vocal about his desire to stay with the Patriots, but New England’s cap crunch has led him to sign elsewhere. He’ll now face his old friends twice per season and he might make the Pats regret the decision to let him leave.

Amendola accepted several pay cuts in order to stick on the Patriots’ roster in recent years, but the offers were too good this time around for the wide receiver to stay put. The veteran earned roughly $6MM over the last three years with the Patriots and he’ll earn more than that in guarantees alone with Miami.

After a down season in 2016, Amendola racked up 61 receptions, 659 yards, and two touchdowns during the 2017 regular season before stepping up with a 26/348/2 line in the postseason. Amendola has never topped 700 yards receiving in a single season, but he is a strong weapon in today’s quick passing game.

The Dolphins jumped at the chance to land Amendola after parting ways with Jarvis Landry this offseason. They used the franchise tag on Landry, an excellent slot receiver, to keep him with a one-year, ~$16MM placeholder before shipping him to the Browns. Amendola will step into Landry’s role and while he might not offer the same production, he comes at a much better value.

This has proven to be a seller’s market for this year’s top free agent wideouts. Already, Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, and Paul Richardson have landed lucrative multi-year deals. Amendola joins that group with a solid pay day of his own.

[RELATED: Dolphins Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Pats, Shelton

The Jets, armed with $90MM of salary cap space, are of course prepared to make a major push for this year’s Holy Grail of free agents, Kirk Cousins. But Gang Green has plenty of needs to fill outside of quarterback, and GM Mike Maccagnan is making no bones about his team’s anticipated activity level when free agency opens this week. Maccagnan said at the scouting combine, “Obviously we’ll be very active on the first day [of free agency] in terms of the higher profile guys. Everybody is well aware we have quite a bit of cap space to work with. There are quite a few players we’re interested in” (via Brian Costello of the New York Post).

Per Costello, the Jets are poised to re-sign Josh McCown if they fall short in their pursuit of Cousins. The team also needs upgrades at running back, center, and cornerback. Wide receiver and inside linebacker could also be positions that New York targets.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the AFC East:

  • Dion Lewis‘ abilities as a runner and receiver allowed the Patriots to run all sorts of formations in 2017, but it is widely believed that he will not be back in New England in 2018. Fellow free agent Jerick McKinnon, who has thrived in a similar role in Minnesota, could be a logical replacement, per Phil Perry of NBCSports.com. However, even though McKinnon will not break the bank, Perry thinks it is more likely that the Pats re-sign Rex Burkhead and address their RB needs in the draft.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that the newly-acquired Danny Shelton will count for $2.03MM against the Patriots‘ cap in 2018 (which matches his base salary). As we learned yesterday, New England will have to decide whether to exercise Shelton’s fifth-year option, which has a projected value of roughly $7MM, by early May. The Browns, meanwhile, will be saddled with about $1.7MM in dead money as a result of the trade, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the 2018 fifth-round pick the Patriots received in the Shelton swap is expected to be Cleveland’s lower pick in the round, No. 159 overall. Reiss adds that New England, which shipped a 2019 third-rounder to the Browns, could recoup a third-round pick in next year’s draft through the compensatory system.
  • In the same piece linked above, Reiss says the Patriots will not stray from their usual financial discipline in their efforts to re-sign Danny Amendola, but given Amendola’s impressive 2017 campaign, he says other teams may view him as a pure No. 3 wideout instead of the No. 3/4 option with a limited workload that he has been with the Pats (and those teams could offer to pay him accordingly). As such, Amendola — who has taken pay cuts to remain with New England in the past — could have a harder-than-expected decision to make this month.
  • Reiss also sees Titans LB Avery Williamson as a “sleeper” target for the Patriots when free agency opens in a couple of days. Williamson is in his prime and gives New England the type of off-the-line LB it is looking for.
  • We learned earlier today that the Dolphins continue to contemplate moving on from Ndamukong Suh, though it makes more sense for the team to either retain him — perhaps with a restructured contract — or trade him than it does to simply cut him.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

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Danny Amendola To Have Strong Market

Free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola‘s market is “unfolding favorably,” according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, who adds it wouldn’t be surprising if the veteran wideout is able to earn $3-5MM annually on his next contract.Danny Amendola (vertical)

Amendola has taken several pay cuts in order to stick on the New England roster over the past few years, and his resulting cap charges have stayed the near the low end of that $3-5MM range. As Howe notes, the mere fact that Amendola was willing to accept those pay reductions likely means he’d prefer to stay with the Patriots for the long term, but New England could need to fend off other suitors.

Following a down 2016 campaign, Amendola managed 61 receptions, 659 yards, and two touchdowns during the 2017 regular season before stepping up with a 26/348/2 line in the postseason. Acting as Tom Brady‘s security blanket, the now 32-year-old Amendola has never topped 700 yards receiving in a single season, but his proficiency in the quick passing game makes him desirable in today’s NFL.

If he does reach the open market, Amendola will join a free agent wideout class that also includes Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, and Marqise Lee, and Paul Richardson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.