It was a familiar face that attracted veteran receiver Danny Amendola to sign with the Detroit Lions in free agency on Monday.
“Just my relationship with coach (Matt) Patricia,” he said on a conference call after signing a free-agent deal with the team Monday morning to fill their slot receiver opening. “The experiences we’ve had together and what we’ve gone through – and that excitement is mutual.
“Obviously, he’s a defensive-minded coach, he was the defensive coordinator in New England when I was there, worked together for five years, and just a guy who is relatable. A guy that’s demanding. He’s instilled a lot of mental toughness in the guys that play for him and those are the things that stood out the most.
“He was never really my coach, so to speak, because he was always on the defensive side of the ball, but I was always around him all the time and I just love the enthusiasm he brings to work. The attitude he comes into the building with every day. I’m excited to continue my career with him.”
View photos of wide receiver Danny Amendola.
Amendola spent last season with the Miami Dolphins and played five seasons before that with the Patriots, where Patricia was the defensive coordinator. The two won two Super Bowl titles together in New England.
The 33-year-old veteran is coming off a 59-catch, 577-yard season with the Dolphins in 15 games played. He’s amassed 485 catches over a 10-year career with the Dolphins, Patriots and Rams. He's reached more than 600 receiving yards in a season five times throughout his career, most recently in New England in 2017. He also gives the Lions another option at punt returner, having returned 185 punts over his career with 9.5 average yards per return.
Amendola said he can’t wait to get started learning Darrell Bevell’s new system in Detroit and to start working with quarterback Matthew Stafford and fellow receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. Amendola and Stafford both grew up in Texas together, so Amendola joked that he was happy to be joining forces with another “Texas kid.”
“He has every throw in the book,” Amendola said of Stafford. “He can do a lot of great things, so I’m excited to get started with him and working with him.”
Amendola had a 79.6 percent catch rate in the slot last season, which is the percentage of receptions compared to targets on balls thrown when a receiver is playing in the slot. That was the second-highest percentage of any slot receiver in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
“I feel really good,” Amendola said of heading into his 11th season. “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.”