The New England Patriots have used the obscure May 9 tender on free agent running back LeGarrette Blount.
The news was first reported by ProFootballTalk.com and followed up by Field Yates of ESPN. As is expected with such a foreign term, there is actually quite a bit to digest here.
By issuing the tender, Blount remains a part of the compensatory draft pick formula. This formula is used by the league to weigh each team’s gains and losses in free agency. If a team loses more than they gain, they may be granted a compensatory draft pick the following year. The degree of significance determines if and in what round the pick is awarded.
After May 9th unrestricted free agents can be signed without them impacting the team’s standing in the compensatory draft pick formula.
The tender is worth 110% of the player’s salary the previous season. That makes the one-year offer to Blount worth $1.1 million.
The other important bit of information from the tender is that it puts a hard line on Blount’s free agency. If he remains unsigned through July 22nd, Blount is unable to negotiate with any team but New England.
While Blount may have been hoping for more attention after the May 9 deadline, he now has to wonder if this is enough to scare teams away.
Blount is coming off of a career season in which he rushed for 18 touchdowns. However, if teams around the league were so convinced by his season, they wouldn’t have been waiting around to make him an offer. In other words, if teams were waiting for the deadline to pass before making an offer, then their standing in the compensatory draft pick formula was already a factor to them.
Of course, it is entirely possible that a team overlook their standing if they value Blount as a commodity. That may have been what Belichick was figuring when he made the move and was strictly looking for draft pick consideration. However, it could be a dangerous gamble.
If July 22nd passes and Blount does not have a deal, New England would be on the hook for $1.1 million. That is a small contract in terms of the league, but New England has already made many additions to their backfield. Spending $1.1 million on a player that you cut or hardly play is still a poor business decision.
The final bit to consider here is that, although clever, the move is an unmistakable slap in the face to Blount. He has been the workhorse in New England for several years now and has never been able to cash in for big money in his career.
At age 30, he is running out of time to do so. As an unrestricted free agent coming off of his best statistical season, he was likely shaping up to receive the biggest contract of his career. And even after loading up on offense and especially the backfield, the team drives down Blount’s market value for compensatory draft pick compensation.
It still seems more likely that Blount will sign elsewhere, but he cannot be thrilled at how this rarely used tool may damage his value.