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Amendola, Butler leaving Patriots

Union Leader wire services
March 13. 2018 11:53PM
New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) catches a touchdown pass ahead of Jacksonville Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson (39) during the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

New England Patriots strong safety Malcolm Butler (21) intercepts a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette (83) in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. The interception saved the Patriots' 28-24 victory.. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Danny Amendola’s and Malcolm Butler’s days in New England are reportedly over. Amendola, who blossomed into one of the most clutch playoff performers in franchise history, is expected to sign with the Dolphins today at the start of free agency, according to NFL Network. Butler, a cornerback, is reportedly headed to Tennessee.

Amendola’s market was cooking earlier this offseason, to the point where it had an early appearance that he’d be priced out of New England. The terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed yet.

Amendola, a slot receiver who played five years for the Patriots, took $10 million in pay cuts over the past three offseasons, so he likely viewed an opportunity to corral one more hefty paycheck at the end of his career. Obviously, the Patriots’ best offer wasn’t in the ballpark.

Amendola, 32, caught 230 passes for 2,383 yards and five touchdowns with the Patriots. He added 57 receptions for 709 yards and six touchdowns in 13 playoff games, including a pair of victories in the Super Bowl.

He was also as tough as anyone in the locker room. Amendola played through a torn groin in 2013, knee and ankle injuries that required surgery in 2015 and managed that balky knee for the duration of the past two seasons.

For the Patriots’ part, they had to manage Amendola’s snaps in the regular season to preserve the knee. When the financial figures are released, it might be easier to understand why they declined to match the offer for a player who couldn’t fill a full-time role for the length of the year.

But they’re losing a clutch performer, whether on third down or throughout the playoffs, a favorite of Tom Brady and a locker-room leader who will now see them twice per season. Amendola proved to be an important fail-safe for the Patriots, especially last year when Brady’s favorite target, Julian Edelman, went down with an ACL tear.

Amendola elevated his game in the postseason as the Patriots earned a spot in Super Bowl LII, totaling 26 catches for 348 yards and two touchdowns. In five straight postseasons with New England, Amendola piled up 709 yards and six scores over 13 games.

In the finale of Brady’s recently released “Tom vs. Time” documentary, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski praised Amendola’s playoff mettle in a phone call with Brady.

“How does Danny get so good in the playoffs, man?” Gronkowski said.

Butler, meanwhile, is about to become a rich man in new surroundings around familiar faces.

The 28-year-old cornerback has reportedly agreed to sign a five-year, $61 million contract with the Tennessee Titans when the free-agency period begins today.

Butler will receive $30 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.

Butler spent the past four seasons with the New England Patriots and the ending was a low point when he was stunningly benched for the Super Bowl LI loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

He will always be part of Patriots’ lore due to his game-saving interception of Seattle’s Russell Wilson in Super Bowl XLIX following the 2014 season.

The move to Tennessee reunites Butler with three former members of the New England organization — cornerback Logan Ryan, general manager Jon Robinson and first-year head coach Mike Vrabel.

Butler has eight interceptions and four forced fumbles in 59 career regular-season games (48 starts) since making the Patriots as an undrafted free agent from West Alabama in 2014.

Butler had two interceptions in 2017.

Boston Herald and Field Level Media


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