New England Patriots: Mike Gillislee Signing An Absolute Home Run
The New England Patriots made a brilliant move in landing running back Mike Gillislee from the Buffalo Bills.
The incredible offseason for the New England Patriots continued on Monday. The defending Super Bowl champions have done a great job of adding immediate impact players to their mix this offseason, with their latest signing of running back Mike Gillislee being one of the best.
Gillislee was a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning his former team, the Buffalo Bills, could match any contract offer sent his way. The Patriots offered Gillislee a two-year, $6 million contract last week and the Bills officially decided to decline to match the offer on Monday. For the next two seasons, Gillislee will be making plays int he Patriots’ backfield.
This was a brilliant move by Bill Belichick and company, as Gillislee fits in perfectly with their roster. With the Bills last season, Gillislee ran for a league-leading 5.7 yards per carry. He was fantastic for Buffalo as the primary backup to LeSean McCoy and even showed some real ability when given an opportunity to expand his role.
Gillislee is a powerful back who shows nice quickness on the inside. He is a smart and tough runner who can pick up the dirty yards on the inside. On top of his league-leading yards-per-carry average, Gillislee was a productive goal-line back for the Bills, punching it into the end zone for eight rushing touchdowns. He also did not get stopped behind the line of scrimmage at all in 2016.
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The Patriots’ backfield was already full stocked with a lot of talent. The trio of James White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead can undoubtedly be a productive bunch. However, Gillislee fits in perfectly with the current backs on the roster.
White is almost exclusively a receiving back, but he is one of the best in the business. Lewis has some rushing ability, but he is a speed first runner who does not pick up the tough yards inside well. Burkhead is a fantastic special teams player who certainly has some ability as a running back, but he is more of a balanced back who is not going to take on a huge volume of carries.
Gillislee’s ability as a power back who can pick up the tough yards on the inside is perfect for this offense. He will likely fill the void left by LeGarrette Blount. Blount had a lot of success with the Patriots the last two seasons, but at this point in their careers, Gillislee undoubtedly has more natural upside.
The Patriots did a great job of filling an important need with the selection of Gillislee. It did cost them a fifth-round selection, which will be the 163rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. That was the fifth-round selection the Patriots acquired from the Denver Broncos in the A.J. Derby trade.
In a sense, this move was simply trading Derby for Gillislee. No matter how you look at it, the New England Patriots come out way ahead in that deal.