The New England Patriots have already won the offseason with a number of moves in free agency that should ensure the defending Super Bowl champions will be favored to repeat, and Bill Belichick might not be finished yet.
Super Bowl champion Marshawn Lynch is reportedly considering a comeback and is interested in the Patriots, while 2012 league MVP Adrian Peterson worked out for New England and is still available. The Patriots have also reportedly offered a contract to LeGarrette Blount, which Blount has not signed.
Shannon Sharpe, Eric Mangini and Skip Bayless analyzed the Patriots' running back options on Tuesday's episode of "Undisputed", and debated whether a player with the reputation of Lynch or Peterson would fit in New England.
Eric Mangini: Older players can thrive by not having to be 'the guy' in New England
“It’s interesting with the Marshawn Lynch to the Patriots [report], and Adrian Peterson… I think both those could work.
"The nice thing for a running back of their caliber, of their track record - in New England you can go in and you don’t have to be ‘the guy.’
"I remember when we got Corey Dillon from Cincinnati, there was a lot of talk about how ‘difficult’ he was to deal with… you couldn’t get a better guy. You couldn’t get a better teammate. And in talking to Corey, he said it was just nice to play football, to not have to be the star, to not have to be something besides a football player.”
Bob DonnanBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Mangini: Peterson and Lynch would have to accept a reduced role
“That’s what’s great for Adrian Peterson, that’s what’s great for a guy like Marshawn Lynch. Now they’ve got to be willing to do that.
"And, really, New England’s not looking for a true running back. They’re looking for a closer. They’re looking for a guy that’s just going to play a role. They’ve got - picked up Rex Burkhead, they’ve got James White.
"So they need a role player, and if those guys are willing to go in there and play a role… it helps their legacy, it helps their longevity. They’ve got a chance to win, but you’ve got to understand what you’re signing up for.”
Joe NicholsonJoe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
We don't know how Adrian Peterson would adapt to being a role player
“See, that’s the thing. That’s what’s the interesting part - especially about Adrian Peterson. You said you don’t have to be ‘the guy,’ but he’s always been ‘the guy.’ So how does he handle not getting 20 [carries]? He might get 20 carries one week, he might get five the next. I don’t know how that plays out.
"But I’m looking at this, Skip and Coach, and I think a lot of people are using the Patriots to drum up support. Because [if] ‘the Patriots are interested, they must know something that we don’t.’
"Because everybody now all of a sudden wants to go play for the Patriots… Richard Sherman and Adrian Peterson and Beast Mode.”
Mark D. SmithMark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
LeGarrette Blount is feeling undervalued
“LeGarrette Blount’s saying ‘hold on, wait a minute. I just ran for over 1,000 yards, had 18 rushing touchdowns. You got a minimum offer no the table for me, and you just gave Rex Burkhead over $3 million?’
"But we know this about the Patriots. You can play for them, but it’s going to be at their price.”
USA TODAY SportsDan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Mangini: Blount is still the best fit for the Patriots
“With LeGarrette, he said he wanted to go out and get paid, and that’s fine. And it’s one of those things where [you] go test the market. Go see what your value is, if you get a better deal, great.
"But you have to understand, ‘If you’re looking, we’re looking.’ And the deal that you come back to may not be as good as the deal we initially offered.
"Do I think LeGarrette Blount is the best fit? Yeah, he’s the best fit because he’s been there, he knows what’s going on. Now his average last year of 3.9 yards per carry [was] down from what it was, but he’s a role player and he’s played that role well.”
Bob DonnanBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Belichick would likely prefer to have Blount over Peterson or Lynch
“Doesn’t it start to smell like the Patriots are using Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch to leverage LeGarrette?
"… Don’t you think, in the end, Bill Belichick’s heart of hearts, that he wants LeGarrette Blount back, because he knows the system, and has accepted the system, and has thrived in the system?”
Eric Mangini: “Those are all good points, but there’s no reason that Adrian Peterson couldn’t do the same thing. The thing I was impressed [by] Adrian Peterson… he went in and worked out. Didn’t he go work out for the Patriots? To me, that shows that Adrian Peterson’s mindset is in the right place. It’s like a famous actor going in for an audition.”