The New England Patriots have not addressed their running back position in free agency and there appears to be no rush at this point in time.
While the Patriots have been interested in some of the high-upside free agents, the prices for players have greatly exceeded what Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio have been interested in spending. Players like Doug Martin ($7.15 million average per year), Lamar Miller ($6.5 million APY), Chris Ivory ($6.4 million APY), C.J. Anderson ($4.5 million APY), Matt Forte ($4.0 million APY), and Bilal Powell ($3.75 million APY) have all been out of the Patriots price range.
This means that the mutual desire for running back LeGarrette Blount to return to the Patriots on a deal for roughly one third of the price of C.J. Anderson is increasingly likely. The Patriots will likely not devote more than 1.0% of their salary cap to any single rusher.
Inquired about FA RB LeGarrette Blount: He's 100 percent after suffering a chipped bone in his hip in 2015. Never had surgery. Good for OTAs— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2016
Blount isn't a hot ticket this free agency period, but he's actually better than you would think. He's a boom-bust runner that thrives in the fourth quarter, but he appeared to struggle behind the worst offensive line since Belichick took over in 2000. That should have been expected.
While injuries changed the landscape for the team's rushers from the early season to the playoffs, we can point to Brandon Bolden averaging roughly the same yards per carry over both time frames (3.14 early vs 3.30 late) as a sign that the line's run blocking was actually pretty okay throughout the whole season.
The random mix of Steven Jackson and Joey Iosefa averaged 2.72 yards per carry down the stretch.
Blount averaged 4.26 yards per carry behind that line. He might not be far above average, but he's certainly superior to the replacement players that the Patriots were scrounging to sign at the end of the year.
The New England Patriots could very well invest in a ball carrier in the draft- and they probably should- but don't be surprised if and when you see a report later this month stating "Blount has passed the Patriots physical, expected to sign a 2-year deal valued at $2 million with incentives up to $4 million."