Let’s talk about Amendola first. He was on the Eagles practice squad back for part of 2009 before joining the Rams. He quickly became a workhorse player for the Rams. Amendola is at his best in the slot. He lacks ideal size for playing on the edge. He’s also more quick than fast. Playing in the slot lets him take advantage of his quickness. He’s able to get separation and then has the RAC skills to run in traffic. Think of him as the opposite of DeSean Jackson, who needs space so that he can use his speed.
Amendola set an NFL record in 2010, but not the good kind. He caught 85 passes, but averaged just 8.1 yards per catch. No other player has caught that many passes with such a low average. Part of that was on the offense, but part was on Amendola’s lack of top speed. He’s coming off his best season and only averaged 10.6 ypc.
Several teams will be bidding for Amendola. While he’s not an explosive weapon, he is very good at what he does. He knows how to work the middle of the field. He is tough. He will block. Amendola does have good RAC ability. He was a RS for the first couple of years in St. Louis, but didn’t do that much in 2012.
Now for the Eagles angle. Going after Amendola surely has to mean Jason Avant will be cut. Amendola is a slot guy. Avant is purely a slot guy. I’d hate to see Avant go, but he’s not an ideal fit for Chip Kelly’s offense. At Oregon Kelly had mainly 2 types of receivers. Some were tall. Some were short, quick/fast types. Avant fits neither of those profiles. He’s also older and has no RS ability.
Amendola played for Pat Shurmur for 2 years in St. Louis. Shurmur knows how to use him. I also think Amendola is Kelly’s kind of player. Kelly preaches that WRs must block. Amendola will. He is tough and tenacious. Kelly also likes to go no-huddle and have things move quickly. Amendola is the kind of guy who can get open quickly. That will allow the QB to get rid of the ball in a hurry and keep the offense on schedule.
Avant only has 2 TDs in his last 150 or so catches. Amendola has 6 TD catches in that same span. That doesn’t make him Plaxico Burress, but every TD helps. Amendola is also versatile. He has been used on end arounds and reverses. He is 12-87 for his career. Avant is 1-1 as a runner. I’m pretty sure that was a RZ play, but I’d have to go back and look it up.
The angle on this that has me confused is Michael Vick and the slot receiver. Vick and Avant were hardly a dynamic connection in the last 3 years. Avant had a single 100-yard game with Vick. He also had one with Vince Young and one with Nick Foles, despite just playing in a few games with them. Avant only had consecutive games with 5 or more catches once with Vick at QB. Avant’s best 4-game stretch in terms of receiving yards came with Nick Foles at the helm. You obviously don’t build around Vick or what he does well, but it is interesting that this move would be such a poor fit for Vick’s skill set. On the other hand, Foles is very good with using the slot receiver. Maybe Nick has a better chance of starting than some people realize. Just something to keep in mind.
I would have to think that the Eagles would plan for Amendola to be the primary PR and possibly KOR. He has 6 career KORs of more than 40 yards. He has 3 career PRs of more than 40 yards. I don’t think I need to go over last year’s return numbers for the Eagles. We all remember how miserable they were. Field position was a major issue for the team. I figured that all the talk of building through the draft and going with young players would mean that Damaris Johnson and Brandon Boykin would get a chance to show what they could do for the new staff.
The simple selling point is that Amendola is younger, faster, and more versatile than Avant. He would upgrade STs.
The argument against the move is that Amendola has missed 20 games in the last 2 years. Cutting Avant would also strip the offense of a vocal leader and very high character guy.
While the Eagles may want Amendola, there will be competition. If the Pats lose Wes Welker, they could make a strong play for Amendola. This isn’t a matter of the Eagles simply making a decent offer. They won’t have to break the bank, but Amendola won’t be a bargain player.
When Jimmy Bama and I did the free agency preview, I totally blew off the idea of signing a WR. Chip Kelly is already throwing us a curve ball and making things interesting.