Between now and the start of the new league year on March 11th, we will take a look at each of the New England Patriots’ pending free agents, and their chances of sticking around in 2014 and beyond. We continue with running back LeGarrette Blount.
Name: LeGarrette Blount
Position: Running Back
Age: 27 | Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
2013 Season: The Patriots picked up LeGarrette Blount for pennies on the dollar during the 2013 NFL Draft, and the move couldn’t have panned out much better for the Patriots. After serving as a late-game and short yardage back early in the season, Blount exploded at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. Blount finished the regular season with 772 yards and seven touchdowns and a 5.0 yards per carry average. In back-to-back-to-back games from week 16 to the team’s divisional playoff match-up against the Colts, Blount picked up 431 yards and eight touchdowns. By the end of the season, he was running with more decisiveness, and was causing as many missed tackles as any running back in the league.
Why the Patriots Should Re-Sign Him: Blount was able to put previous locker room issues behind him, and stayed content in New England despite being used sporadically in the early portions of the season. He is 27 years old, but has just 579 career carries to his name. The Patriots were able to transform their offense to a power-running scheme in the final weeks due to Blount’s emergence. Blount may not be as quick to the whole as Stevan Ridley, but he picks his spots, can break arm tackles, and becomes increasingly difficult to bring down as the game wears on. If re-signed, he could very well be the team’s feature back in 2014.
Why the Patriots Shouldn’t Re-Sign Him: While Blount’s late season emergence was awesome, it also put him on the radar of a lot of NFL teams. The Patriots have proven, as with the cases of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, and Blount himself, that they can get a lot of value with buy-low investments at the position. With Ridley and Brandon Bolden still on the roster, the team may not see the benefit into getting into a bidding war for Blount. There are some intriguing low-risk, high-reward targets on the free agent market, and the team could choose to go that route rather than eat up cap-space by bringing back Blount.
Bottom Line: The Patriots will place a price they ware willing to pay on Blount and are unlikely to go over that number. The team will want Blount back, but if it comes down to a bidding war, he’ll be heading elsewhere.
Prediction: Departs via free agency on a three year, $12 million deal