It is not a secret: The New England Patriots are looking for ways to improve their running back corps. The team signed Rex Burkhead in March and brought other free agents in for visits. One of them, as reported earlier today, was Buffalo Bills restricted free agent Mike Gillislee, who was at Gillette Stadium yesterday.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, though, Gillislee was not the only AFC East running back to visit New England yesterday:
A double dose of RFA RB's visited Gillette Stadium yesterday, as Dolphins RB Damien Williams (low tender) also was there, per league source.
While he does not have the flashy stats of Gillislee, Williams has been a steady and reliable contributor for the Dolphins on offense and special teams: Since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014, Williams appeared in 48 of a possible 49 games, working both as a versatile running back and a kick returner.
Over the course of his three-year career, the Oklahoma product amassed 892 total yards from scrimmage while scoring nine touchdowns. Furthermore, he ran back 29 kickoffs for an average of 20.4 yards per return. In short: Williams has the skill set to serve as a depth running back in the mold of James White and Dion Lewis while also offering competition for recently re-signed Brandon Bolden.
Whether he ultimately joins New England or not depends on if he gets signed to an offer sheet. In case the 25-year old does sign one, Miami would have five days to match. Given that the Dolphins have about the same amount of salary cap space as the Patriots – $20.8 million as compared to New England’s $19.8 million –, the team would financially be able to match any offer.
If it did not, though, the Patriots would receive Williams without having to give up a draft pick as compensation. After all, Miami opted to place the lowest tender on the former undrafted rookie.
At this point, New England might simply do its due diligence by bringing Williams and Gillislee in for visits. However, even if the team does not ultimately extend offers to one or both, it shows that it is working on improving the depth and quality of its running back depth chart.