FOXBORO, Mass. — Danny Amendola agreed to restructure his contract yet again earlier this year to remain with the New England Patriots.
His reasoning was simple: He wants to play football, and he wants to win.
“I love playing for this city,” the Patriots wide receiver said after Saturday’s training camp practice. “I love playing for this team, and I love the atmosphere Coach (Bill Belichick) brings when we walk in the building every day. I want to play good football, and I feel like this is the place where I’ll be able to challenge myself and play the best football that I can. Ultimately, that’s why I’m here.”
Amendola was set to earn $6 million in base salary this season and carry a cap hit of more than $7.7 million — far too rich for a player who caught just 23 passes in 2016. Under his new deal, which he signed in April, he’s set to make just over $1.6 million.
At 31, Amendola is the Patriots’ sixth-oldest player, and this will be his ninth season in the NFL. Some speculated the veteran wideout might call it a career after New England defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, but he said the thought of retirement never crossed his mind.
“I want to play football for some more time,” said Amendola, who now has taken pay cuts in three consecutive offseasons. “I’m not done yet. So wherever that may be, whatever it is, wherever it is, I want to play football at a high level, and this is where it’s going to be. I love it here. I’m trying to make this team and trying to fulfill my role, whatever that may be, trying to expand my role, whatever that may be. Trying to be here for my teammates and trying to win games. That’s why I’m here.”
Though Amendola said he feels “the best (he’s) felt in a long time,” the Patriots still have limited his activity during training camp. Friday’s practice was the first full-pads session that he was a full participant in. He’s spent much of camp working on a separate field away from the team, which typically indicates a player is recovering from an injury.
Amendola, who missed four games with a high ankle sprain last season and underwent knee and ankle surgeries last offseason, said the Patriots are holding him back for his own good.
“Sometimes, the coaches do a good job of holding me back,” he said. “If I were to get out there too soon or if I wasn’t ready or if I had something that was bothering me a little bit, I would play through it. And sometimes, it would make things worse.
“I feel like pace is a huge part of being successful in the preseason and then on into the season. I like to go full speed all the time, and sometimes it’s good to — right now, I’m just easing into it and getting ready.”
Amendola had his best game of the 2016 season in Super Bowl LI, catching eight passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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