It immediately priced Vereen outside of the Patriots checkbook and made it slightly easier to move forward with visions of James White and, possibly, Reggie Bush or some other cheaper free agent. Vereen personally chimed in after the article surfaced to laugh at the thought.
"Haha not true," the running back said over Twitter. "But who wouldn't be?!?!"
Which is a totally true and fair point that sheds some light on the situation.
1) Vereen is totally asking for $5 million behind the scenes in the same way that I'm looking for a winning lottery ticket or a workout-free diet or, I don't know, $5 million. It'd be nice to have, and probably an idea thrown out into the open, but this number should be treated as a ceiling, not a floor.
2) Reggie Bush received a contract for $16 million over four seasons after piecing together 2,600 yards from scrimmage over two seasons with the Dolphins. Vereen doesn't have 2,000 yards from scrimmage his entire regular season career. He's not reaching $4 million per season.
3) $4 million per year is actually the 8th highest yearly average for a running back. That is absolutely insanely low in the grand scheme of football. You could have two top 10 running backs for the price of one top 10 anything else. The 8th highest kicker gets $3 million per year. Just. Wow.
4) Danny Woodhead received $2.75 million per year from the Chargers. Darren Sproles received $3.5 million per year from the Eagles. The Lions are paying Joique Bell $3.1 million per year. I would expect Vereen's market value to fall in between those numbers, erring on the side of $3 million per season.
5) As a result, Vereen totally hasn't priced himself out of the Patriots cap space. $3 million per season would be the 14th highest paid player on the roster, but sandwiched between Brandon LaFell and Ryan Wendell. That seems to fairly represent Vereen's value to the team, fairly meets the market value, and retains a team leader for a friendly price.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Vereen return for the next few seasons.