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2020 Detroit Lions free agent profile: Should Lions re-sign Danny Amendola?

After a promising season, does Amendola deserve a second year in Detroit?

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Detroit Lions v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions kicked off free agency in 2019 with a move that didn’t exactly get people too excited. After trading away Golden Tate in 2018, the Lions replaced him by signing veteran Danny Amendola to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million guaranteed.

Many, myself included, weren’t too thrilled with the move. I gave it a C+ grade at the time, commenters were a little more kind, averaging around a B- grade.

But by the season’s end, Amendola had done enough to change several fans’ opinions of him. Now heading into free agency again, the Lions face an interesting decision with Amendola.

Previously in this series:

Danny Amendola

Expectations before 2019

The biggest concern about Amendola was his health. Entering the season at 33 years old, Amendola had battled through injury after injury. Though he played in at least 10 games in each of the past seven years, there always seemed to be something lingering that held back his production.

That being said, his guaranteed money essentially solidified his spot as Detroit’s slot receiver, which had been a significant position in previous years under former offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. It was unclear if that would change under Darrell Bevell, but one thing was clear, expectations for Amendola were fairly low going into the season.

Actual role in 2019

2019 Stats: 15 games (10 starts): 62 catches, 678 yards, 1 TD; 1-1 passing, 19 yards, 1 TD (158.3 passer rating)
PFF Grade: 71.5 (46th of 102 qualifying WRs—20% of targets)

Undoubtedly, Amendola exceeded expectations with his 2019 output. He came just 11 yards short of setting a career high in receiving yards. His 62 catches were the most in a single season for him since 2015 and the fourth-highest of his career. He actually finished ahead of Marvin Jones Jr. in targets (though played two more games than him) and was well ahead of him in yards after the catch (218 vs. 121).

Most important of all, Amendola stayed healthy for nearly the entire year, appearing on the injury report just for a short two-week span after a chest injury.

What should the Lions do with him?

Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent

The case for re-signing:

Amendola proved he still has something left in the tank next year, and he is exactly the kind of locker-room presence this team is looking for. He’s intense, he’s focused, and he’s anything but a distraction.

At 34 years old, he should also come somewhat cheap. That would leave the option for Detroit to draft someone this year and have him learn from Amendola’s ideal example.

The case for letting him walk:

It’s only a matter of time before Amendola finally hits the wall. As good as he was last season, Amendola’s ceiling is just 600-ish yards every season. The Lions could probably do better with a quicker, younger option in this year’s deep receiver draft class.

Take, for example, third-round pick Terry McLaurin. The Ohio State rookie put up 919 yards in his first season with Washington, despite having to deal with a horrible quarterback. Detroit could follow that blueprint and come out with yet another threat in the passing game.

My thoughts:

Well, first we have to look at things from Amendola’s point of view. Does he have any interest in coming back? There’s a report floating out there that Amendola would love to reunite with Tom Brady, whether in New England or somewhere else. Does he have the patience or desire to stay in Detroit—a franchise that doesn’t currently look like it can compete for a championship in the immediate future?

If the answer is yes, I wouldn’t mind bringing Amendola back on a similar deal to what he got last year. But, overall, I think it’s probably best for a mutual parting here. This year’s draft class is solid, and oftentimes rookies can come right in and make an impact. That makes most sense for the Lions right now, especially with Jones and Kenny Golladay on the last year of their deals.


Should the Lions re-sign Danny Amendola?

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