Danny Amendola didn’t have much time to look around the NFL, but the veteran wide receiver knew where he’d like to be in 2019 – a place where he’d be comfortable and have a role.
That place quickly became Detroit, which signed him to a one-year deal Monday morning, placing him with some familiar faces in Lions coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn. He knows both men from their time together in New England from 2013-17 (although Quinn left earlier to take the Detroit general manager gig).
“Just a guy that’s relatable, a guy that’s demanding,” Amendola, 33, said of his new head coach. “He’s instilled a lot of mental toughness in the guys that played for him and those are the things that stood out the most. He never was my coach, so to speak, because he was on the defensive side of the ball and obviously I play offense.
“I was around him all the time and I just love the enthusiasm that he brings to work. I love the attitude that he comes in the building with every day.”
The attitude is part of what might have made Amendola attractive to the Lions as well. Amendola played five years in New England, so he grasps the culture fit necessary to make it work in Detroit. And he said he wanted to go somewhere that he “could fit in.” That was something that appeared to be an issue with the Lions last season. And with the Lions unlikely to re-sign LeGarrette Blount, Amendola becomes sort of the culture ambassador for the offense.
“I learned a lot of different offenses in this league. As soon as you can learn an offense and kind of relate it to what you know, it’s easier for a guy with that experience to learn and be one with an offense,” Amendola said. “I feel like, this is my 12th year in the NFL and it’s going to be a small learning curve early in OTAs for me just to get this new offense down.
“But I’ve been watching this style, this type of offense for a long time. I’ve been a part of an offense like this obviously. Every team communicates differently. Every verbiage is different on each team. I have to learn that vocabulary but schematically it’s something I’m familiar with.”
On the field, Detroit has an idea of what it is getting – and might be banking on another late-career receiver rebound, like the club saw in the final days of Lance Moore and Anquan Boldin’s careers. Amendola has caught 59-65 passes three of the past four years for 575-659 yards. He’s not a high touchdown producer but in this offense that won’t be expected. The man he’s replacing, high-volume Golden Tate, didn’t see the end zone much, either.
Moore’s last year in Detroit was a 29-catch, 337-yard, four-touchdown season in 2015. In 2016, Boldin had 67 catches for 584 yards and eight touchdowns. If the Lions can replicate somewhere in between those numbers for Amendola, then it might have been a reasonable investment at a position where they have a potential player in the future, Brandon Powell, so Amendola can be both a tutor and a stop-gap until he’s ready.