Last season, LeGarrette Blount carried the ball 299 times for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
After the career-best campaign, Blount is currently an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team in the league, including New England.
However, despite the incredible success he showed (especially in short-yardage situations) last season, it seems as though his time with the Patriots may be over.
Earlier this offseason, New England inked versatile back Rex Burkhead to a multi-year deal and added him to a backfield that already included pass-catching specialists Dion Lewis and Super Bowl hero James White. Therefore, the well-oiled machine that is the Patriots offense already has three viable ball-carriers and may be looking for someone to fill a lesser role on first and second downs in particular.
Given Blount’s success last year, the fact that he played on a discount in 2016 and given that he’s 30-years-old, he will likely be looking for the most lucrative short-term deal of his career. In typical Patriots fashion, Bill Belichick is seemingly attempting to replace him with a cheaper, younger option.
And this younger, option comes from a division rival yet again. After signing restricted free agent Chris Hogan to a three-year, $12 million deal before last season, the Buffalo Bills declined to match the offer.
New England hopes the same thing happens again this offseason, as they extended a two-year, $6.4 million offer sheet to running back Mike Gillislee, as reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The Bills will be able to match the offer since they hold the restricted rights to Gillislee's contract. Chris Wesseling of NFL.com points out that Bills general manager Doug Whaley will have five days to match the deal.
If he doesn’t, Gillislee will join the Patriots and seemingly fill Blount’s role from last season, as a power back in short-yardage situations on mostly first and second downs.
The 26-year-old Gillislee carried the ball 101 times for 577 yards (5.7 yards per carry) last year with eight touchdowns for the Bills. Since LeSean McCoy dominates the snap count when he’s healthy, Buffalo might be willing to let him leave town, especially since $4 million of his offer sheet is in the first year of the deal. That's a lot of money to pay for a second or third stringer.
Since the Patriots have prided themselves on being smarter than their competition since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick took over the world together, the Gillislee signing may be a part of their genius plan.
“This number represents value, per play, over an average running back in the same game situations. The more positive the DVOA rating, the better the player's performance. Negative DVOA represents below-average offense.”
Who was No. 2 on the list?
If you came up with Burkhead, you’d be correct.
Therefore, it seems as though New England is definitely sticking with their analytical approach towards team building. So far, it’s worked out very well, and that’s an understatement.
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