New England Patriots Internal Free Agent Priorities – Part Two of Six: Trio of Veterans (Vince Wilfork, Danny Amendola, & Jerod Mayo)


Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; A member of the New England Patriots hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are still basking in their dramatic 28-24 Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks. While most of the players are off to start their limited post-season and get healthy for the 2015 season, some like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman are still making the rounds to parties, talk shows, and more. As much fun as it would be to continue to relive the Super Bowl glory, it is time to follow head coach Bill Belichick’s lead and say “we’re on to the 2015 offseason.”


Sep 7, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Dominique Easley (left) and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (right) both take the field before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Now, the Patriots coaches, front office and scouting staff should have rolled up their sleeves and are full tilt to work on catching up on their work. Over the next few weeks the regional draft combines start and is capped off by the national NFL combine starting on February 17. The Patriots also have a deadline of March 2 as far as applying the franchise tag to players who cannot work out a long-term deal and the team wants to keep.  Free agency begins on March 7 with teams able to negotiate with unrestricted free agents and on March 10 at 4PM the league year begins and players start moving.


With that, it seems the ideal time to take a look at the internal free agents and cap numbers of salaried veterans in New England where tough decisions need to be made as far as roster management. Kicking off the six-part series was kicker Stephen Gostkowski, and part two looks at a trio of veteran contributors in wide receiver Danny Amendola, inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork:

OFFSEASON PRIORITY TWO OF SIX: Danny Amendola, Jerod Mayo & Vince Wilfork

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) celebrates an interception during the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

This trio of veterans all find themselves in different situations entering 2015:


  • Vince Wilfork had an acrimonious offseason prior to the 2014 season–even demanding a trade at one point–before settling on a new contract. He was their top defensive tackle by a large margin and exceeded all expectations coming back from a 2013 season lost to an Achilles injury (Wilfork was injured in week four and missed the rest of the year).
  • Jerod Mayo missed a chunk of 2013 (playing just 407 snaps and just six games) and another big chunk of 2014 (playing only 343 snaps and again playing in only six games). Both seasons have seen Mayo replaced by Dont’a Hightower as one of the inside linebackers as New England transitioned back to a 3-4 defense.
  • Danny Amendola was signed as a free agent to replace the departed Wes Welker as the slot receiver. Unfortunately, Welker’s production was replaced by Julian Edelman in the offense while Amendola has been limited to putting up “Welker in Denver numbers” as the third wide receiver.


Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball to New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) against the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

While Wilfork re-established himself as a three-down defensive tackle in the New England defense, he also has an $8.93 million cap number in 2015. Mayo–who seems in line for a reduced role with Jamie Collins and Hightower locked in as the two inside linebackers–has a colossal $10.287 million cap charge and $6.25 million base salary in 2015. Amendola, who had a renaissance at the end of the 2014 regular season and added 11 receptions and 3 touchdowns in the playoffs, is on the books for a hefty $5.7 million cap charge and $4 million base salary.


Wilfork is likely the most irreplaceable of the three, which is important for him as his contract has a minimal dead money charge and just releasing him (as a post-June 1 release) can clear $8.5 million in cap savings in 2015. Mayo is the likeliest candidate for re-working his contract like Wilfork last season as he would have a big $3.6 million dead money charge and free up $6.687 million in cap space if released. Amendola’s release would free up $4.5 million in cap space with just $1.2 million in dead money if released.


Sep 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo (51) against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Vikings 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

While it is difficult to imagine Wilfork in another uniform, Mayo not part of the team, or Amendola released after finally finding a niche in the offense and on special teams, the fact that almost $21 million in cap space is tied up in a 29 year old backup slot receiver, a linebacker who will 29 years old this month with two season-ending injuries and has played 12 games in two seasons while losing his role to a younger player, and a defensive tackle who will turn 34 next season and plays the same position as their 2014 first-round draft pick.

All three players should return in 2015, but Mayo and Amendola likely will have to play ball and restructure like Wilfork did last year. Wilfork stands out as a vital piece of the puzzle with untested youngsters Sealver Siliga, Dominique Easley, Zach Moore, Joe Vellano, and Chris Jones filling out the defensive line.