Why the Patriots should re-sign LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount is a 250-pound back who has hit the dreaded age of 30-years-old, the supposed line of demarcation and deterioration for running backs. And yet, he should be wearing a New England Patriots’ uniform when training camp starts next season.
Admittedly, there’s a number of reasons not to sign Blount: he’s aging, his successful season could yield a significant contract in free agency and the Patriots might be best-served just drafting a bigger running back. But Blount’s age doesn’t seem to be affecting him, and the tale of the 30-year-old running back may just be a myth.
As for his contract, Blount wants to return to the Patriots. That means he understands that he’ll have to make financial concessions to stay with the team.
“You play to win,” Blount said recently on the “Rich Eisen Show.” “And that’s all they do here is win football games and win championships.”
That sounds like a player who is unconcerned with his contract.
And frankly, his contract may not end up being an issue. Players like Julian Edelman or even Blount himself have hit the open market, and found they are not in high demand. The other 31 teams fear the player’s productivity was a product of Tom Brady, Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick. While Blount finished first in the NFL in rushing touchdowns and ninth in rushing yards, he surely won’t get paid like it. The Patriots could find a way to negotiate a one-year contract that is incentive-laiden, which would provide the team some financial security in the event of an injury or decline in productivity.
If all goes well in contract negotiations, Blount’s return would be a welcome sight to Belichick, McDaniels and running back coach Ivan Fears. Blount provides the team with a running style that few players in the last decade of the NFL can match. Even Belichick, who doesn’t mind comparing players, admitted there’s no one quite like Blount in recent memory.
“I don’t know if there’s a lot of guys really that I would compare him to right off the bat,” Belichick said in December. “You see him making some tough runs and running guys over, and then you see him hurdling guys like in the Miami game and you see an open-field run like he had last week against the Rams where he kind of, you know, spun the safety around and ran by him. So he’s got a good combination of moves and style. It’s not all one thing. He’s effective. He’s got an effective stiff-arm. He can be elusive, he can be powerful. And he’s got good run vision. It’s hard to find another guy like him.”
Blount complements the running styles of James White and Dion Lewis, who have each establish their own roles in the offense. White has taken over the third down back role, and Lewis helps carry the load on all downs to prevent fatigue from White and Blount. They form one of the more formidable three-headed rushing attacks in the NFL. They’re also a tightly knit group — they’re good friends.
The Patriots could certainly draft a running back in the early rounds, and hope that player could immediately become a fit mentally and emotionally in the locker room. But why not do both? The Patriots should keep Blount around for one more year while developing another power back.
By re-signing Blount, they should have continued success in the running game in 2017.