Back in 2014, former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount moved down to Pennsylvania over the offseason, didn’t get much playing time, expressed his displeasure, wound up on the cutting room floor in the middle of the year, moved back to New England, and wound up winning Super Bowl XLIX.
We might have a repeat of these events in 2017.
According to NFL insider Adam Caplan, via Bleeding Green Nation, Blount has not been playing well and is no lock to make the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I mean, I didn’t think it would be this big if you asked me a week ago, but the more information I gather on Blount, the more I understand that he’s no lock to make the football team,” Caplan said on 97.5 The Fanatic. “Again, if you were to ask me a week ago, I’d probably say ‘Ah, he’s going to make it. I don’t see it being an issue.’ But … bad preseason game, just, weight not great, I’ve just been checking in to some things.”
Blount has gained 17 yards on 9 carries (1.9 YPC) and has fumbled this preseason. He hasn’t played well at all.
Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Lee Gowton notes that the Eagles aren’t playing their top offensive line, which could be the cause of Blount’s poor production, but there was a reason Blount wasn’t a priority for the Patriots to sign this offseason and why no team made an offer until after the NFL Draft.
If Blount doesn’t play well for the Eagles early in the regular season, they could ultimately release him and, who knows, maybe he’ll make his way back to New England. If Mike Gillislee continues to struggle with a hamstring injury, then head coach Bill Belichick would be the first to take back Blount and end Gillislee’s season; availability is more important than ability, and all that coach speak.
Just as importantly, if the Eagles release Blount prior to week 10 of the regular season, then Blount will not count against them in the compensatory draft pick calculus. This should sound familiar to Patriots fans. The team signed TE Clay Harbor in 2016 and the contract canceled out the deal signed by DT Akiem Hicks and the Chicago Bears.
The team released TE Clay Harbor on October 3rd and re-gained the 5th round compensatory pick for the loss of Hicks, which they ultimately traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for TE James O’Shaughnessy.
Now the Eagles wouldn’t receive a compensatory pick whether or not they retain Blount- that’s part of the reason why they signed him- but the decision could affect the Patriots 2018 draft picks.
Currently, Blount is valued as a 7th round compensatory draft pick for New England, per Over the Cap. The Patriots are also scheduled to receiver a 4th and a 5th for EDGE Jabaal Sheard and TE Martellus Bennett, respectively.
When looking at the compensatory calculus, we see that the contracts for the signed CB Stephon Gilmore, DL Lawrence Guy, and RB Rex Burkhead cancel out the loss of CB Logan Ryan, LB Barkevious Mingo, and EDGE Chris Long.
If Blount doesn’t make the Eagles, then the Patriots won’t earn that 7th round compensatory pick- far from the end of the world, but still a small loss- but the damage grows if, say, Mingo doesn’t make the Indianapolis Colts roster.
If Mingo doesn’t make the Colts, then the calculus changes. As of now, Blount would step up in the cancellation chart if Mingo is released. But if Blount is also out of the compensatory picture, then it would be Martellus Bennett and his 5th round compensatory pick that would be eliminated.
So Blount serves as a buffer for New England’s 2018 NFL compensatory draft picks and could be the difference between having a 4th, 5th, and 7th, or having just the 4th- and that’s a pretty big deal for the draft.