FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (BVM) – For someone that was compared to Wes Welker coming out of Texas Tech, while not producing the Welker-type numbers, Danny Amendola would become a serviceable slot receiver that proved to be clutch when needed.
After a four-year college career at Texas Tech, including a 1,245 yard, six-touchdown senior season that saw him be named to the All-Big 12 second-team, the 5-foot-11 receiver went undrafted in 2008. He was signed to the Dallas Cowboys on April 27 and spent his first season on the practice squad.
The 2009 season started the same, as Amendola was on the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad. However, on September 22, everything would change for the second-year player.
Tenure on the St. Louis Rams
The Rams picked up Amendola after the hiring of former Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. On an offense that scored just 175 points and tallied 12 passing touchdowns, he racked up 326 yards and one touchdown. However, his special teams returning prowess shined, as he recorded 1,978 combined yards on 97 returns.
With the addition of quarterback Sam Bradford in 2010, Amendola saw a jump in the receiving department, recording a career-high 85 receptions for 689 yards and three touchdowns. Combined with 1,594 return yards and 81 rushing yards, he led the NFL in all-purpose yards.
After missing all but one game in 2011, the fourth-year receiver returned in 2012 to put up similar numbers in just 11 games, recording 63 receptions, 666 yards, and three touchdowns. This includes two 100-yard performances and a career-high 160 in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins.
Patriots tenure and “Playoff Danny”
Amendola’s success in St. Louis would lead to him signing with the New England Patriots on a 5-year, $31 million dollar contract with $10 million guaranteed in compensation. He was seen as the replacement to the aforementioned Welker, who left for the Denver Broncos.
Behind a crowded receiving core with guys like Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks and Malcolm Mitchell, Amendola recorded 600-plus receiving yards in 2013, 2015 and 2017. While he missed 11 games during his five years and had two seasons of 200 and 243 yards, he was a dependable slot option for quarterback Tom Brady.
Amendola saw a decrease in returning duties in his five years in New England, returning a combined 118 kick and punt returns. There were inconsistencies and injuries in the regular season, but Amendola became a household name in the postseason.
It started in the 2014 postseason in the divisional round against the Baltimore Ravens where he recorded five receptions for 82 yards and two touchdowns. His strong play continued in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks, where he tallied 48 yards and caught a touchdown to cut the Patriots’ deficit to 24-21.
Amendola’s next signature performance came in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. During the 28-3 comeback, he recorded five receptions for 61 yards. The two biggest plays he made was a 17-yard reception on 4th & 3 that led to the first touchdown and a 6-yard touchdown to help cut the deficit to 28-20. For the game, he finished with eight receptions, 78 yards and the aforementioned touchdown.
The following year, thanks to an injury to Edelman, Amendola would reach the peak of his playoff career. In the divisional round against the Tennessee Titans, he recorded 11 receptions for 112 yards. He would prove to be even more clutch the following week in the AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, catching two touchdowns on back-to-back drives to get the Patriots out of a 20-10 deficit.
Amendola would save his best for last in Super Bowl LII, recording eight receptions for 152 yards in the 41-33 loss. In total, Amendola’s 348 yards rank 15th all-time for a single postseason while his 26 receptions is tied for No. 6 all-time.
In 13 playoff games for the Patriots, Amendola was a key contributor to two Super Bowl-winning teams. Individually, his 709 receiving yards ranked 46th all-time and his six touchdowns are tied for 29th. For his penchant of elevating his play when it mattered most, he was given the nickname “Playoff Danny”.
Final NFL Seasons
After the 2017 season, Amendola signed with the Miami Dolphins on a two-year, $12 million dollar deal.
In his final four years, he was not able to find a stable home after leaving New England, playing for three teams. However, he still proved to be a dependable receiver, recording 500-plus receiving yards from 2018-2020. This includes 678 in 2019 for the Detroit Lions, which was the second-best of his career.
In his final season for the Houston Texans in 2021, the 36-year-old recorded 24 receptions, 248 yards and three touchdowns. In his final career game on Jan. 9, 2022 against the Titans, he recorded nine receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-25 loss.
Retirement, net worth, and his future plans
After spending the whole offseason as a free agent, Amendola retired on Tuesday. For his career, he finished with 617 receptions, 6,212 yards and 24 touchdowns. While he made around $38 million in contract earnings, his net worth is said to be around $8-12 million. That number could’ve been more if he didn’t take pay cuts during his Patriots’ tenure.
As for what Amendola will do after retirement, according to Adam Schefter, the former receiver is looking into different offers in broadcasting. No other plans have been reported.
Regardless of what he does in his post-playing career, it’s safe to say that the former undrafted free agent overachieved considering his draft position. He was a dependable slot receiver for every team he played for, especially for two Super Bowl-winning teams. As Bill Belichick said, he was a “good football player” and should be immortalized by Patriots fans.