Allen Park — The Detroit Lions checked the first item off the team's offseason shopping list Monday morning, signing veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola.
Amendola, 33, was released by the Dolphins on Friday. The Lions were able to land him on a one-year deal worth up to $5.75 million. That includes a guaranteed $4.25 million base salary, $250,000 in per game bonuses and up to another $1.25 million in playing-time and performance bonuses.
"Miami and I had a few conversations and decided it wasn’t going to be the best fit for me," Amendola said on a conference call. "That’s the way this business works. I understand you can’t play football forever, so I wanted to get ultimately in the best spot for me, the best spot for my family and continue my career here in Detroit. I’m very thankful for this opportunity and ready to get going."
A 10-year veteran, Amendola went undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2008. After a year on the Cowboys practice squad, and four productive seasons with the Rams, Amendola went on to spend the next five seasons with the Patriots.
When Amendola signed with the Patriots, Lions general manager Bob Quinn was in charge of New England's pro personnel department. Lions coach Matt Patricia also fully overlapped with Amendola's time in New England. That connection was a significant part of the appeal coming to Detroit.
"Just a guy that's relatable, a guy that’s demanding, he’s going to instill a lot of mental toughness in the guys that play for him," Amendola said. "Those are the things that stood out the most. He was never my coach, so to speak, because he was always on the defensive side of the ball — obviously, I played offense — but I was always around him, all the time. I just love the enthusiasm he brings to work. I love the attitude he comes into the building with every day. I’m excited to continue my career with him."
In his lone year with the Dolphins, Amendola caught 59 passes for 575 yards and one touchdown. He also threw a 28-yard touchdown. He's never topped 700 receiving yards in a season during his career.
He also has plenty of experience returning kicks and punts, but has seen a reduction in that role in recent years. He's returned just 14 kickoffs over the past four seasons and fielded 11 punts in 2018, his fewest in five years.
Despite his advanced age, by NFL standards, Amendola is confident he'll be able to continue to produce to the standard he's set.
"I feel really good," he said. "I’m in the best condition of my life, I’m as fast as I’ve ever been and I’m as hungry as ever. I’m ready to play at a high level and do whatever I can to help this team win."
In Detroit, Amendola effectively replaces Golden Tate, who was traded to Philadelphia at the deadline last season. He averaged 93 receptions his first four seasons with the Lions, and was leading the team with 44 catches through seven games when he was traded.