The New England Patriots were able to sign running back Mike Gillislee after the Buffalo Bills didn’t match the offer sheet.
So far this offseason, the New England Patriots made it rather clear that they were looking to improve at running back. Last season, the Patriots were led by LeGarrette Blount in their backfield.
Blount had a career year for the Patriots, as he totaled over 1,000 rushing, and set the single-season rushing touchdowns record. Even though the total stats looked good for Blount, he did struggle in certain areas.
Last season, Blount averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry, and also had some games where he just disappeared. Even though Blount was still a free agent, the Patriots decided to move on when they made the offer to Gillislee.
For the second straight season, the Patriots have taken a restricted free agent from the Bills. Last offseason, wide receiver Chris Hogan was signed by the Patriots away from the Bills. Hogan went on to have a very good season for New England, and they will hope that Gillislee can do the same.
For the Bills last season, Gillislee totaled 577 rushing yards, eight touchdowns, and a very impressive 5.7 yards per carry average. LeSean McCoy was the featured back in Buffalo, but Gillislee was able to perform well as his backup.
Now, Gillislee will be joining a crowded backfield for New England. In addition to having James White and Dion Lewis, the Patriots also added Rex Burkhead from the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though there are four running backs, Gillislee will certainly be utilized as their short yardage, goal line back.
With the NFL Draft a few days away, the signing of Gillislee likely indicates that the Patriots won’t be selecting a running back. With the backfield set, they can now focus on some other needs on their team in the draft.