Will the Rams re-sign Danny Amendola? It is one of the most important decisions the Rams have to make this off season. The current roster of WR's does not exactly strike fear into the hearts and minds of opposing teams. Is re-signing him an absolute necessity? Or are there better solutions to improving our WR corps (and by extension our offense as a whole) than re-signing him to what will no doubt be a much bigger contract than the one that just concluded?
Why The Rams Won't Re-Sign Danny Amendola
Front office allegiance
Amendola was on the roster before Snead and Fisher took over the reins last year. The roster underwent a massive overhaul this past year and they retained the services of Amendola. However, Amendola was not brought in or selected by the current front office. They hold no allegiance to him whatsoever. I am not sure how much of a role this plays in keeping or letting go of players. It certainly shouldn't be counted as a positive factor in re-signing him.
Recent injury history
Amendola has only played in 12 of 32 games in the past two seasons. Is he injury-prone? Brittle? Were they just freak injuries? I am no medical expert; as such I can't answer those questions. It likely won't be counted in his favour as Fisher and Snead contemplate re-signing him.
Why the delay in re-signing him?
Chris Long and James Laurinaitis were both signed to lucrative long-term contracts in short order. All we have heard for quite some time is that the negotiations with Amendola are ongoing. Why the delay? There can be many reasons for this. It does lead one to suspect, however, that there are difficulties being encountered that might preclude him from being re-signed. Usually a delay like this means differences in perception of value and/or difficulties in reaching agreement about various terms in the contract. Amendola might also be looking to explore possibilities in the free agent market.
The upcoming draft
The Rams have many quality picks in the upcoming draft. There are many quality options available for the slot receiver position in the first two rounds of the draft. Robert Woods and Markus Wheaton both come to mind as being attractive potential replacements for Amendola and at a much cheaper cost.
Money, the salary cap and a long-term deal
It goes without saying that Amendola would be looking for a substantial pay raise, one that will bring his salary to a level well in excess of the 1.972 million he earned this past season. He likely would be looking for a long-term deal as well. Amendola is considered to be one of the better slot receivers in the game. For purposes of comparison, Wes Welker earned 9.5 million this past season and is a free agent as well. He may be the best slot receiver in the game. It would be reasonable to suggest that Amendola's market value would fall somewhere in the 3.5 to 7 million range. In addition, he would probably would be looking for at least a four year deal. The Rams will be leery of giving Amendola a contract that is longer than 2-3 years due to his injury history. They may also want to structure the contract in such a way that the number of games he plays in a season factors into his salary. Given the tight cap space the Rams have, they will no doubt want to sign him for lesser pay than he may get elsewhere (New England?). This may be the reason that contract negotiations have stalled and gone on for as long as they have.
Amendola's career and statistics
The following statistics may surprise you:
Danny Amendola career stats: 42 games, 196 rec., 1726 yards, 8.8 YPC, 7 TD's
Brandon Gibson career stats: 55 games, 174 rec., 2090 yards, 12.0 YPC, 9 TD's
Please do not take from those stats that I think Gibson is a better player. However, aside from his great 2010 season, it can be argued that Amendola has not put up impressive enough numbers to warrant a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract. His perceived value in the marketplace just might be greater than his actual value. The Rams are not likely to overpay to secure his services, but another team might be willing to take that risk.
Why The Rams Will Re-Sign Danny Amendola
The uncertainty surrounding the depth chart
Currently the Rams only have 3 wide receivers from the 53 man roster under contract for the 2013 season: Austin Pettis, Chris Givens and Brian Quick. The remaining three (Amendola, Steve Smith and Brandon Gibson) are all free agents. The Rams will not be bringing back Smith and bringing back Gibson could be a fanpost all on it's own. Givens made great strides in his rookie season. Quick is still an uncertainty at this point. Pettis is no more than a number 3-4 receiver on the depth chart. The best way to describe the depth chart in one word: THIN. Of course there is free agency that can fill the void. However, all of the higher quality receivers will come with a prohibitive cost relative to the Rams available cap space. The upcoming draft has a fair amount of depth at the wide receiver position but no A.J.Green or Julio Jones. The draft is a risky proposition because there are no guarantees as to who may be available at any particular point in the draft. The draft also occurs AFTER the primary signing period for free agents. Amendola adds some certainty to the depth chart, is a reliable target, works well with Sam Bradford and adds a veteran presence. He is also the Rams number 1 wide receiver.
The Sam Bradford Blanket
There is little doubt that Danny Amendola is Sam Bradford's favourite wide receiver. He is Sam's go-to guy, safety valve and security blanket. Amendola's presence in the line-up helps to elevate Bradford's game. They work well together and at times the connection is almost telepathic. Other wide receivers (particularly Chris Givens) filled in quite well for Amendola when he was out of the line-up for 5 games this past season. However, none of them can be counted on implicitly to replace one half of the successful partnership that is Bradford and Amendola.
The New England Patriots Factor
There have been rumours (that's how we spell it in Canada), for what seems like forever, that there is interest from the Patriots in signing Amendola as a replacement for 32 year old all-pro Wes Welker. One thing is for sure about the Patriots: they never fear spending money if it is for the right reasons. Why the interest from the Patriots?? The reasons for the interest are exactly the same reasons the Rams should have for keeping him. Both the Rams and Patriots slot receivers are free agents. Amendola will cost perhaps half of what a Wes Welker would cost. Amendola is 27. Welker is 32. Amendola is capable of putting up Welker-like receiving stats if he can stay healthy. In other words, Amendola provides a cheaper, younger and highly productive alternative to what is available in the free agent market, including Wes Welker.
Will the Rams re-sign Danny Amendola? We will find out in the next two months. What do I think will happen? I think the Rams will try to re-sign him as cheaply as possible and for no more than three years. The contract would likely be incentive-laden. If they can't sign him on their terms they will likely look to the draft to bolster the receiving corps. What are your thoughts? Will they re-sign him? What would you do if he wasn't re-signed? Please vote in the poll. Your comments and opinions are always welcome.