For the past two weeks, we’ve counted down the top 10 salary cap bargains for the Detroit Lions’ 2020 season. Unfortunately, no team has a perfect list of contracts on their books. Sometimes, you either have to overpay to bring someone in from free agency or the deal you agreed upon turned out to be a dud.
To be clear, I don’t blame the players on this list at all. Clearly, they did something to earn the contract they received, and unlike a lot of people, I don’t believe in this theory that some players dog it after they get paid. Having seen the competitive nature of players in the locker room and practice field first hand, I think that narrative is way overplayed.
So while I don’t think any players on this list have checked out after they got their payday, I also don’t believe their contributions to the team in 2020 will necessarily match the cap they’re taking up for the upcoming season.
Reminder: This list is only based on 2020 cap hits, not the entirety of the contract. Additionally, no 2020 rookies are included in the list, since several remain unsigned.
5. Danny Amendola
2020 cap hit: $4.97 million
2020 cap hit ranking: 45th among wide receivers
Last year, many believed the Lions overpaid to bring Amendola in as a 33-year-old receiver carrying a $4.5 million cap hit. He proved those people wrong with an extremely solid 2019 season. He finished the season with 62 catches (46th) and 678 yards (53rd)—more than the likes of Golden Tate, Sammy Watkins and Will Fuller.
His modest pay raise in 2020 is well deserved, but I’m not so sure it will end up paying off like it did last year. 2019 was nearly a career year for Amendola, coming up just 12 yards shy of setting a career high in receiving yards. It would be hard to expect Amendola to reach those kind of numbers again at 34. In the history of the NFL, players 34 or older have eclipsed Amendola’s 2019 yard total only 73 times, and among those names, you’ll see guys like Larry Fitzgerald (3x), Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens (4x), and Jerry Rice (7x).
There’s also Amendola’s injury history. Though he left 2019 fairly unscatched—save for a chest injury he suffered after landing on a camera that caused him to miss one game—he’s historically dealt with semi-serious injuries in almost every season of his career.
Overall, Amendola’s contract is not horrible. The Lions are likely paying him also to be a locker room example, a veteran to teach some of the new, younger receivers, and to play in a system he’s both comfortable and experienced in. Still, he’s not exactly the guy you’d expect to have the 10th-highest cap hit on the team. Plus, you look at a guy like Emmanuel Sanders—someone who has consistently outperformed Amendola throughout his career and is a year younger. Sanders’ cap hit this year is just $4 million (though he has a $10 million cap hit next year).
For a one-year deal, this isn’t a bad contract for the Lions, but it is a slight overpay.
Top 5 Detroit Lions worst salary cap hits for 2020:
5. Danny Amendola