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Patriots Interested in RB Bilal Powell with RBs Chris Ivory and Doug Martin About to Sign Massive Contracts

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The New England Patriots have turned their attention towards Jets free agent running back Bilal Powell after some of the bigger names in free agency have started to connect with teams.

Fellow Jets free agent running back Chris Ivory is expected to sign with the Jaguars for a contract valued at more than $6 million per year. The Jaguars are expected to subsequently release Toby Gerhart.

As a post-mortem of the Patriots pursuit of Ivory, prior to free agency, I called the running back "a pipe dream" for the Patriots, claiming that he'd receive a contract upwards of $7 million per year. After Dolphins free agent running back Lamar Miller was seeing less than $5 million per season from Miami, I changed my tune and thought that the Patriots could actually compete for the services of a top running back.

I forgot that Miami has no idea how to value free agents and that they are trying for their fourth straight offseason championship title. On that front, the Dolphins are going to sign Bills malcontent defensive end Mario Williams to a two-year deal valued at a maximum of $10 million per season. The 31-year-old didn't not receive high praise from former teammates.

Best of luck to Miami.

Ivory wasn't the only running back to receive a major payday as the Buccaneers are looking to sign Doug Martin for a fraction more than whatever Ivory receives from the Jaguars.

This should reset the top of the running back market. With Bears free agent running back Matt Forte looking at the Packers, the Patriots will start looking at the next tier of available players. That includes Jets free agent running back Bilal Powell.

Personally, for as much as I loved Ivory, I think that Powell would be an amazing fit. The 5'10, 210 lbs running back runs a 4.5 40 yard dash and battled injuries over the first five years with the Jets as a 4th round pick in the 2011 draft.

Powell has averaged 14 games over the past four seasons, picking up an average of 620 yards from scrimmage. He can run (4.0 yards per carry), he can catch (47 receptions in 2015), he can pass block ("If you don't block, you don't play."), and he plays special teams. He's an ideal committee back.

While Ivory would be a workhorse, Powell would be an early season alternative to a recovering Dion Lewis and would be an improvement over James White. While White is a tremendously dynamic receiver, he's extremely weak as a rusher and offers no special teams value. Powell would also be an improvement in every offensive facet over Brandon Bolden, too, but Bolden's special team ability is valuable.

Even though Powell could be an extremely interesting fit, he wouldn't fill the LeGarrette Blount function in the offense and the team would have to keep looking for a bigger back. On the other hand, Powell has a 64% conversion rate in short yardage situations, ahead of Blount's 60% rate, so perhaps Powell is a better fit than we think.