The New England Patriots acquired running back LeGarrette Blount by trading running back/track runner Jeff Demps to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. Blount made $1.25 million in 2013 while with the Patriots, but he is a free agent this offseason and will most likely make less in 2014.
Blount was not really a huge contributor for most of 2013 until he went full beast/X-Box mode over the final two weeks of the regular season and New England’s Divisional round win over the Indianapolis Colts. Over those three games Blount had 613 total yards and eight touchdowns. Now Patriots fans want him back in Foxboro. Patriots running back Stevan Ridley feels the same way, but if Blount is not back in a Patriots uniform, Ridley is confident he can take over the starting role again. Ridley had 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns on 290 carries in 2012, and it was expected he would have a really impressive 2013 campaign. Then someone put Crisco on Ridley’s hands and he fumbled three times in as many games to lose his starting job to Blount since The Hoodie, I mean Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, does not take kindly to fumbles. Ridley recognizes he missed an opportunity to do something great in 2013 and is ready for a shot at redemption in 2014, but he also wants Blount back with the Patriots.
Blount was scheduled to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers today (Friday, Mar. 28), but it got pushed back until after the league’s annual meetings. The Steelers are probably Blount’s highest suitor (the Baltimore Ravens have also expressed interest), but they only have available cap space of around $1 million. The Patriots have Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden on their roster, so the question is, do the Patriots need Blount?
Need is probably a strong word. If the Patriots have the cap space after taking care of other key issues, including a marquee wide receiver like Andre Johnson, a pass rusher or two and adding some depth at tight end, and Blount is inexpensive to sign, then sure they should try and bring him back. The Patriots reportedly have available cap space of around $4 million left for 2014, so it is entirely possible they don’t have room to bring Blount back; and if that’s the case they should not worry about it.
Yes, it’s true that both Ridley and Vereen will be free agents after the 2014 season, but are the Patriots really looking to give Blount a three-year contract anyway? No. Plus, Blount just doesn’t seem like he would be “the guy” at running back. While he could certainly contribute to the Patriots offense in 2014, re-signing him does not really solve the problem of Ridley and Vereen being free agents after the 2014 season.
Running back should not be a position of huge concern for the Patriots this offseason. Next offseason yes, but not this offseason.