After two months of free agency, the Patriots have offered starting tailback LeGarrette Blount a contract. However, with seven other backs currently on the roster, the tender may be more shrewd strategy than earnest declaration of interest.
New England offered Blount a one-year, $1.1 million contract Tuesday, but the deal appears more like a ploy to recoup a compensatory draft picks should a rival franchise show interest down the road. If another team offers the bruising back a deal, the Patriots will have the option to either match those new terms or receive a compensatory pick in return.
The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe had more details on the rarely seen move.
Blount is coming off the best season of his career. He led the league in rushing touchdowns after finding the end zone 18 times for the Super Bowl champions. However, he averaged only 3.9 yards per carry last fall and will be 30 years old this upcoming season.
That — and a 2017 NFL Draft loaded with running back talent — led to some trepidation from other teams this spring. Despite his age, a $1.1 million contract would make him an inexpensive pickup. Blount was a bargain at a $1 million tender last fall, and his impressive performance raised his total payout to $1.5 million. Settling for $1.1 million plus bonuses would make him the 11th-highest paid free agent tailback of 2017, behind less effective runners like Tim Hightower, Cedric Peerman, Lance Dunbar, and Robert Turbin.
Blount made good on a prove-it year, but a lack of interest has given the Patriots the upper hand in offseason negotiations. New England may not even want its touchdown-scoring battering ram back this fall, but a low price and the temptation of a compensatory pick proved too tempting to keep the team from offering a tender.
Other teams may have been waiting to sign Blount in an attempt to keep the Patriots from profiting. With one under-used move, the franchise ensured they’ll get something from their starting tailback no matter where he plays in 2017.
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