Revisiting the Danny Amendola break-up: Did the Patriots make a mistake?

First it was Matt Patricia with the Detroit Lions, and then it was Mike Vrabel, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis and Logan Ryan with the Tennessee Titans. On Sunday, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Danny Amendola joins the growing list of former New England Patriots players and coaches looking to hand his former team its comeuppance.

It’s official: the 2018 season for the Patriots is a scene straight out of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.

That cheesy romantic comedy that forces actor Matthew McConaughey’s character to come to grips with past relationships bears a striking resemblance to what the Patriots have dealt with all year long.

In every past relationship, there’s always one that hurts the most. It’s that heart bursting wide open with nostalgic feelings of happiness and sadness kind of hurt.

That literally sums up the feelings of seeing Amendola—a former two-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots—now catching passes in a Dolphins uniform. We are far enough into the season to grade Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s decision to pass on doling out a raise that would have kept one of quarterback Tom Brady’s most reliable receiving targets in New England.

Make no mistake, Amendola never wanted to leave the Patriots. His decision to seek greener pastures stemmed from what he referred to as a “significantly” lowball offer from Belichick in comparison to others on the table.

“I understood that I gave money back to [Belichick] so I could play for him and play for my teammates and fulfill my side of the contract, and at the end of the day, I had faith that he was going to give me an opportunity to stay,” Amendola told ESPN’s Mike Reiss back in April. “When free agency broke, I came to the realization that he wasn’t going to really come close to any of the other offers I had. I had to make a decision for my family and go down to Miami and continue my career there.”

How has that decision worked out for the Patriots?

It could have been worse if the Cleveland Browns weren’t so kind enough to ship an early Christmas present in Josh Gordon to the Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick. The troubled 27-year-old wideout bought into the Patriot Way and ingratiated himself as one of the key contributors on the team.

However, this was never about a Gordon and Amendola comparison. If anything, Gordon is a premium replacement for former Patriots wideout Brandin Cooks. With tight end Rob Gronkowski still looking gimpy and Gordon’s lack of playoff experience, it would have behooved the Patriots to shell out the extra money needed to convince Amendola to stay.

There’s a reason why he earned the nickname Playoff ‘Dola. His contributions in the Patriots’ last two Super Bowl runs have fortified him as a living legend in Foxborough.

The thought of Brady having Gordon, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Amendola at his disposal is a nightmare defensive coordinators around the league are thankful to have avoided. Letting Amendola walk out the door to Miami was obviously a mistake on the Patriots’ part, but given all the moves that followed, Belichick has done a tremendous job of making up for it.

The Patriots are exactly where they need to be in the month of December. As for Amendola, he’ll have another opportunity to take his best shot at his former flame, completely cognizant of the fact that he’ll never find a greater football connection.