Danny Amendola's price and Rams' tradeoff

The numbers for Danny Amendola's new contract with the New England Patriots have come into clearer focus.

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.