Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly is reporting that the Eagles will pursue WR Danny Amendola when the NFL's free agency period starts on Tuesday. This comes on the heels of a similar report from Peter King last week.
Amendola spent the early part of the 2009 season on the Eagles practice squad, but was signed away by the St. Louis Rams that year. In 2010, he became the favorite target of Sam Bradford and would set a career high with 83 receptions and lead the NFL with 2,364 all purpose yards.
At 5-11, 188 pounds Amendola draws a lot of comparisons to another Texas Tech WR, Wes Welker and they do share things in common. Both work out of the slot primarily and present special matchup problems to defenses. They're to fast to be covered by a LB or safety, but both are too strong and smart with their hands to get jammed at the line by corners.
As Grantland's Bill Barnwell smartly noted, guys like that effect opposing coverages just as much as a downfield threat like Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green. And given that Amendola does his work underneath, defenses are forced to tip their hands on how they're planning to cover a play much quicker.
And before you say, "he's not Wes Welker," consider this... Welker was hardly Welker at this point in his career. In Miami, he was putting up similar numbers to what Amendola did in St Louis. He was 26 when he was traded and went on to stardom in the Patriot offense. Amendola is 27 and therefore hitting what should be his prime. Is he going to become a perennial 100 catch player like Welker? That's tough to project, but the skill set is there. As Barnwell notes, on a per game basis, he's as efficient and productive as many top WRs.
Last year, Amendola averaged 60.5 yards per game. That puts him right alongside highly paid receivers like Antonio Brown (60.5 yards per game), Anquan Boldin (61.4), and Dwayne Bowe (61.6), and ahead of prominent wideouts like Miles Austin (58.9), Mike Wallace (55.7), and Larry Fitzgerald (49.9). Amendola also caught 62 percent of the passes thrown to him, a figure that actually rates below his previous career catch rate of 69.4 percent. That's a reliable, efficient, and effective target for any quarterback.
Injuries are, of course, an issue and Amendola has suffered 2 bad ones in his career. Torn triceps and a dislocated collarbone. However, these are kind of freak injuries. They're not ACLs or hamstrings or anything that is likely nag him for his career or slow him down. Guys don't get chronically dislocating collarbones.
The other intriguing thing about a guy like Amendola is that it's not something the Eagles currently have. We don't entirely know what the offense that Chip Kelly ends up creating here will look like, but maybe he envisions having an Amendola type player. That's not Jeremy Maclin. It's not DeSean Jackson, who isn't going to be strong or tough enough to play that role, plus you want him as a deep threat. And it's not Jason Avant, who has been effective at times, but does not play the slot role like Amendola does at all. Nor do I think he could if asked. He's just not that kind of player.
You can actually see how Chip's grand plan could have an Amendola in it. As we've heard, he thinks that virtually all sacks are on the QB because there's always something they could have done with the ball. Having a consistent underneath option like Amendola who gets open and doesn't drop a lot of passes makes a lot of sense if you're operating under that philosophy. There should always be somewhere to go. And in an uptempo, no huddle offense where a guy like Amendola is always in motion moving around, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are threatening you on the outside and you've still got 2 potential runners in the backfield... you could see how that could cause a lot of confusion and panic for a defense.
As I've said many times, I'm open to anything right now. I'm all for giving Chip Kelly whatever he feels like he needs. It will be interesting to see what kind of deal Amendola commands. The deal Brian Hartline just signed with the Dolphins, which pays him around $6 million a year, will probably serve as a good starting point.