It's still tough to know what keeping Amendola off the market would have cost the St. Louis Rams had the team pushed for a long-term contract with its most productive third-down receiver. The team might have had to pay more than New England wound up paying.
In any event, the five-year deal Amendola signed with the Patriots appears quite manageable for New England. The third year provides a bit of a tipping point. That is the first point in the contract where the team could release Amendola at a savings against the salary cap. Calling this "essentially a two-year deal" would be going too far, however.
Amendola received a $6 million signing bonus and $4 million in guaranteed base salaries over the first two years of the deal. Initial reports that Amendola received $10 million in guaranteed money add up. The base salaries begin at $2 million in 2013 and increase by $1 million each year. The annual salary-cap charges range between about $3.5 million in the first year and about $7.5 million in the final year.
St. Louis could have held onto Amendola by naming him its franchise player. However, going that route would have forced the team to offer him $10.537 million on a one-year deal. That offer would have become guaranteed when Amendola signed it. The full amount would count against the salary cap in 2013 -- three times the amount Amendola's five-year deal is counting against the Patriots' cap this year. That would have been a hefty price to pay.
Amendola's new deal pays him more than $8 million in cash this year while also providing security beyond 2013.
With Amendola on the market, the Rams moved to sign Jared Cook, a 25-year-old receiving tight end from the Tennessee Titans. Like Amendola, Cook caught most of his passes last season from the slot. Cook got a $5 million signing bonus on a deal featuring $3 million base salaries in 2013 and 2014. His five-year deal counts $4 million against the cap this year and between $7 million and $8.1 million against it from that point forward.
Note: Howard Balzer alludes to per-game roster bonuses totaling $500,000 per season. Those would reward Amendola for staying on the field, something he had trouble doing over the past couple seasons.