Are the New England Patriots poised to snatch more restricted free agents from the AFC East?
Per Ian Rapoport of NFL media, and Field Yates of ESPN, Running backs Mike Gillislee, and Damien Williams, recently visited the New England Patriots.
The moves should not come as a complete surprise considering the Patriots have been actively seeking out running back help.
Just last week, Adrian Peterson visited Gillette Stadium for a free agent visit and let’s not forget that three days ago, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported that Marshawn Lynch expressed interest in signing with the Patriots.
So what does this mean for Gillislee and Williams?
Well for starters, both backs are restricted free agents. If the Patriots offer either back a contract, and the Bills or Dolphins decide not to match the deal, the Patriots would owe them a draft pick. A prime example of this is the same scenario last year in which the Patriots signed wide receiver Chris Hogan to an offer and the Bills did not match.
Last season Gillislee played behind LeSean McCoy, but still led the NFL with 5.7 yards per carry on 101 carries. He scored eight touchdowns. Williams only rushed 35 times for 115 yards, but keep in mind he sat behind Arian Foster and Jay Ajayi.
With the NFL Draft just two weeks away, it will be interesting to see what the Patriots do at the running back position. So far, the Patriots have added running back Rex Burkhead this offseason. They also have a collection of backs on the roster in Dion Lewis, James White, Brandon Bolden and D.J. Foster. Meanwhile, LeGarrette Blount is still unsigned in the free agent market.
The Patriots do appear to be willing to add at least one more running back this offseason. It is just a question of how they do it.