Entering 2018, the New England Patriots had one of the NFL’s deepest running back groups. Five weeks into the regular season, however, only two players remain: Sony Michel and James White, who form a solid one-two punch that generated 411 yards and five touchdowns over the last two games. However, the lack of depth behind the duo it is concerning as the Patriots currently have no other running backs on their 53-man roster.
It is therefore no surprise that the team is looking at outside options to add to the positional rotation. One player who on New England’s radar appears to be running back Mike Gillislee, according to NESN’s Doug Kyed:
The Patriots have been in contact with RB Mike Gillislee, per source. Gillislee, who spent last season and this summer with the Patriots, was cut by the Saints on Saturday. The Patriots could use more RB depth.
As Kyed notes, the Patriots have a history with Gillislee. The team signed the restricted free agent to a front-loaded two-year, $6.4 million contract last offseason. The former Buffalo Bill started well into his tenure with the club, scoring thrice in his regular season debut against the Kansas City Chiefs (coincidentally New England’s next opponent). However, Gillislee was soon surpassed on the depth chart by Dion Lewis and relegated to a backup role.
Ultimately, Gillislee finished the 2017 season with just nine in-game appearances and 104 carries for 383 yards and five touchdowns. After the 27-year old failed to make the second-year jump this offseason, New England opted to move on from him in favor of free agency acquisition Jeremy Hill. Gillislee joined the New Orleans Saints after leaving the Patriots but was let go again when Mark Ingram returned from suspension.
Now, there might be a spot for Gillislee on New England’s roster after all: with both Hill and Rex Burkhead on injured reserve, the team is in need for more depth at running back – and the veteran might be the way to go. Even though he has been outplayed by Hill this summer, Gillislee knows the system and would be a more experienced option than practice squad member Ralph Webb.
It would therefore not be a surprise to see him return to Foxboro soon.