Back in April of 2017, the New England Patriots signed running back James White to a three-year extension valued at $12 million, with an additional $1 million available every year if he could reach certain performance incentives.
White was set to earn an additional $250,000 if could reach the following milestones: 1) 50% of offensive snaps; 2) 60% of offensive snaps; 3) 1,000 total yards; and 4) 1,200 total yards.
White did not have these same incentives last year, which represented the last season of his rookie contract, but he came up short in every category with 600 yards from scrimmage and 39.0% of offensive snaps. Lewis battled Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis for time on the field, but that is no longer the case in 2018.
Through 7 games, White already has 569 total yards, which puts him on pace for 1,301 yards from scrimmage- easily reaching half of his incentives. He’s also played 53.8% of the offensive snaps, clearing one more incentive- and the longer Sony Michel is sidelined with a knee injury, the more likely White is to clear the 60% playing time incentive.
But despite these incentives being within reach, White isn’t changing his approach to the game.
“It’s just taking care of your body and going out there and executing, getting the job done whether it’s more touches or not,” White said about his increased role in the offense due to the rash of injuries. “I just want to make the most of the opportunities that I get and just have fun out there and play to the best of my abilities. That’s all it is. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 10 touches, one touch, 20 touches. It doesn’t really matter. Just go out there and play hard and do whatever I can to help this team and take care of my body to make sure I’m available.”
If the reports of Michel’s return in a couple weeks are true, then White might be asked to be the primary ball-carrier in the short-term instead of having the team add a different player like Kenneth Farrow to the active roster.
White currently ranks 11th in yards from scrimmage for all running backs and his seven touchdowns are tied for fourth, behind only Todd Gurley, Kareem Hunt, and Melvin Gordon. He’s certainly making the most of his opportunities on the field and if he clears these incentives, White will be worth every penny