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Danny Amendola, Rams leading receiver in 2010, retires after defying odds for 13 years

He could have been one of the NFL’s top receivers in 2012, if not for an arm injury

St. Louis Rams vs Kansas City Chiefs

Imagine being a 24-year-old rookie undrafted free agent on the 1-15 St. Louis Rams and it still takes the NFL 13 years to quit you. Danny Amendola caught seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the final game of 2021, but the 36-year-old announced his retirement on Monday. Amendola reportedly had multiple teams interested but has decided to move to the next phase of his life after defying the odds since day one and until the end.

A three-star recruit in the 2004 recruiting class, ranking 56th overall for receivers, Amendola’s career did not take off until his senior season in 2007 when he paired with Michael Crabtree and caught 109 passes for 1,245 yards. That helped get the NFL interested in Amendola but not enough to draft him.

He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent and featured on Hard Knocks that year as one of the more dramatic cuts from the roster. However, he was signed to the practice squad and stayed there for the entire 2008 season.

He was let go by the Cowboys after the season and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, but repeating the same process minus HBO. Though he signed to their practice squad, the Rams came and got him three weeks later. Amendola got at least one target in all 16 games, being most heavily utilized in Week 12 against the Seahawks, catching seven of 11 targets for 55 yards.

But the Rams went 1-15 that season and there were not many passing opportunities with Marc Bulger, Kyle Boller, and Keith Null combining for 12 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.

The next year, Amendola became rookie Sam Bradford’s favorite target, once getting thrown at 19 times against the Detroit Lions. He caught a team-leading 85 passes on 123 targets for 689 yards. He also returned kicks and punts and led the NFL in all-purpose yards that season. Even Amendola’s three touchdowns tied as the most on the team. But what could have become a beautiful friendship was never able to blossom because Amendola suffered an arm injury only six targets (with five catches) and missed practically all of 2011.

When Amendola returned, Steve Spagnuolo was gone and Jeff Fisher was in, but the plan didn’t deviate much. Amendola had 20 catches for 230 yards over the first two weeks of the 2012 season and was beginning to show why had drawn comparisons to Wes Welker, but multiple injuries caused him to miss five games. He still led the team with 101 targets.

Naturally, Amendola went to the New England Patriots in 2013, but he was not quite able to live up to the expectations fans had for him after signing a $28.5 million contract. Injuries played a part in it, but Amendola also saw his target share go down considerably in 2014 and he finished with only 200 yards that season. He did earn two Super Bowl wins with the Patriots over five years, and he gained 348 yards in three games in the 2017 postseason.

Amendola spent the last four years with the Dolphins, Lions, and Texans, and he was one of Matthew Stafford’s favorite targets during his last two years in Detroit.

He was most often targeted in third down situations, finishing his career with 199 catches for 2,262 yards with 144 first downs and 10 touchdowns.

13 years that nobody expected other than probably Danny Amendola.