A reunion between the New England Patriots and running back LeGarrette Blount always made sense.
While Blount wasn't a world-beater in 2015, his performance suffered behind the Patriots worst offensive line of the past 15 years. Blount actually played as expected in his situation. It turns out that he played well enough for the Patriots to want him back for another season.
"Running back LeGarrette Blount and the Pats have shown mutual interest in a new contract, according to a source," the Herald's Jeff Howe writes. "Blount could still hit free agency March 9, but that's not uncommon for a player who isn't expected to draw a massive payday. Negotiations between the two sides are still in the infant stages."
There's plenty of reason to think that Blount will be available for near the veteran's minimum, which makes him all-the-more enticing for Bill Belichick and the front office.
What do they get from Blount? A 29-year-old running back that rarely fumbles, with few touches at the NFL level, coming off a hip injury that didn't require surgery. Blount is not a short-yardage back, but he's a closer that thrives in the fourth quarter when the team has a lead and is trying to run down the clock against a tired defense. The Yin to Dion Lewis' early-game Yang.
They know exactly what they'll get from Blount, which isn't to say that the team shouldn't try to improve via the draft, but more that Blount is more valuable to the Patriots than to other teams.
The Steelers signed a then-27-year-old Blount to a two-year, $3.85 million contract. When he was cut in the middle of the season, he wasn't claimed on waivers. The Patriots subsequently signed him to the veteran's minimum, with performance and availability incentives.
If the Steelers were able to sign Blount to less than $2 million per season, when Blount was 27, how much do you think the running back could get at the age of 29, coming off a hip injury and having forced himself off the Pittsburgh roster?
Look for the Patriots to offer Blount the veteran's minimum with a small signing bonus and game availability incentives, as well as some production incentives should he crack 800 rushing yards (hasn't done since his rookie year) or a certain percentage of snaps.