When the St. Louis Rams decided to let wide receiver Danny Amendola leave and sign with another club in free agency, they weren’t only allowing their most dynamic weapon to walk out the door. Amendola has been quarterback Sam Bradford’s go-to receiver for his entire three year span under center for the franchise. The offense figures to improve in 2013 despite the subtraction of Amendola, however, so just where will Bradford find his new best friend in the passing game?
That is what the team intended for tight end Jared Cook to serve as when they signed him to a five-year, $35.1 million deal. Cook lined up all over the field with the Tennessee Titans and figures to be just as dynamic in the upcoming season in St. Louis. His contract may have been more costly than the deal Amendola eventually received from the New England Patriots, but durability was a factor in that.
Cook has only missed five possible games in his first four years in the league. Amendola, on the other hand, has played in just 12 over the past two seasons out of a possible 32. General Manager Les Snead was very candid when discussing the factor that durability would play in the decision to bring Amendola back or move on with a replacement. Clearly the fact that he couldn’t stay on the field led to the Rams’ eventual decision to look elsewhere.
As for Cook replacing Amendola in the offense, there is a fairly high probability that he will be able to do just that without any problems. Going back over Bradford’s career, the quarterback has a real habit of finding one guy and almost forcing the ball to him at times. In his rookie year, Mark Clayton played just five games with the Rams, but he saw 42 targets. The following season, Amendola was out the entire year and the team added Brandon Lloyd at the trade deadline. In just 11 games, Lloyd saw an astounding 117 targets. And just last year, Bradford only had Amendola on the field for 11 games, but still threw his way on 101 occasions.
What all of this adds up to is that Bradford will likely not miss a beat throwing to a different face with a new number in 2013. If Cook is able to get open (and sometimes even if he can’t), Bradford will throw the ball in his direction quite regularly.