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Patriots continue to have low regard for running backs

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One of the most glamorous positions in football receives little respect in New England.

While the NFL’s rushing touchdown leader (and franchise single-season rushing touchdown record holder) remains unsigned, the Patriots have four running backs under contract for 2017. And only for 2017.

As noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and now Brandon Bolden have deals that end after the coming season. Bolden recently re-signed a minimum-level one-year, $775,000 deal.

With or without (eventually with, most likely) LeGarrette Blount, who if/when he returns likely won’t be getting big money, the Patriots simply don’t place much significance on the running back position.

To go with Bolden’s $775,000, White will make $690,000 in 2017 and Lewis will make $1.287 million. Burkhead is doing better than the other three combined, with a one-year, $3.15 million deal.

Yes, Burkhead and his 344 rushing yards from a year ago landed $3.15 million. That may explain why Blount has yet to take whatever the Pats are offering following an 1,161-yard performance with 18 touchdowns a season ago.

It’s not hard to explain the ongoing success of the offense, given the presence of Tom Brady and an ever-expanding group of pass catchers. Still, the Patriots continue to employ and utilize running backs. They just don’t pay them very much. In part because they apparently know that most of them will choose to keep coming back for whatever they can get — including, eventually, LeGarrette Blount.

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42 Responses to “Patriots continue to have low regard for running backs”
  1. stipez says: Apr 7, 2017 7:41 AM

    Most teams pay cash, Pats pay in rings.

  2. pastabelly says: Apr 7, 2017 7:55 AM

    I can understand Blount’s frustration. He’s earned $6.5 million in 7 NFL seasons. He sees Burkhead coming in and getting over $3 million for one season based on not too much. It has to be frustrating.

  3. elyasm says: Apr 7, 2017 7:56 AM

    It’s not that they don’t value the position per se, it’s just that the types of players they use in that position are widely available, which drives down the cost of their services. Bill got burned swinging for the fences at RB with Maroney and ever since has been happy to use a committee where each player has a specific set of skills and he will sub them into the game, as needed,

  4. kwjsb says: Apr 7, 2017 8:02 AM

    #12 and Isaiah Crowell for JG ?

  5. learysdisciples says: Apr 7, 2017 8:11 AM

    An over-rated and over-paid position. This model will likely become the norm throughout the league.

  6. beefsbrother says: Apr 7, 2017 8:12 AM

    It’s actually 5 RB’s – DJ Foster.

  7. streetyson says: Apr 7, 2017 8:12 AM

    Low regard? I’d put it down to the modified West-Coast offense which reduces dependency on the ground game. And put it on the greatest QB who ever lived… Btw, you’ve omitted Devlin, who has recently signed a 2yr contract.

    The other backs you list are all highly versatile whereas Blount is essentially “just” the vertical hammer. But that’s not why he’s unsigned. Blount turns 31 on Dec 5th and very few RBs go beyond 32. and BB knows Blount’s peak years are ending. Blount clearly wants more money and years than a repeated 1yr $1M deal, but the fact that no one else has signed him shows Belichick is right – and he has no need to up his offer unless someone else puts a much bigger deal on the table – you can’t out-poker Ol’ Poker Face.

  8. dewey51 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:13 AM

    I love Blount as much as the next Pats fan. If a deal is on the table, Blount’s pride is getting in the way of accepting it.

    His numbers look good, but the guy loses focus during games, has had some big fumbles, is an average blocker, and does not have the best hands.

    Blount knows the stability and discipline the Pats offer is what will help him succeed. He is well liked by his teammates, BB, and the owner.

  9. purplepyramidascension says: Apr 7, 2017 8:15 AM

    Gross. Pay the man a fair wage.

  10. Flash1287 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:16 AM

    That’s because running backs are a dime a dozen
    No reason to overpay for one

  11. suncawy says: Apr 7, 2017 8:16 AM

    Blount shouldn’t expect anything more than 2 million from the Patriots, even than much is a stretch for the Patriots.

  12. popover7 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:18 AM

    Running backs are so overrated. Jonas Grey ran for 200 yards in one game a few years ago for them. Pick up 3-4 yards, block the blitzer, don’t fumble. Get out of Tom’s way. Simple.

  13. 6ball says: Apr 7, 2017 8:23 AM

    .
    ” What we have here is a failure to communicate ”

    The Patriots have always had a policy of not paying for past performance. They’re only interested in what you’re going to contribute to the upcoming season. They clearly look at Blount as the past and Burkhead as the future. It’s a cold, heartless way to approach business, but given the system that they’re required to play under, it’s the most effective.
    .

  14. factschecker says: Apr 7, 2017 8:24 AM

    The Patriots use short passing as an extension to their running game. Most of the time it works just fine. Once in a while it comes back to bite them in the butt. Maybe once or twice a year they arguably could have committed more to the running game. Some years more than others.

  15. kissbillsrings says: Apr 7, 2017 8:24 AM

    White is playing on the final year of his rookie contract…fair deal

    Lewis was an oft injured, low demand free agent that chose to sign with the Pats in 2015…. Giving him a chance to play again…& Lewis has been hurt while with team…. Fair deal

    Bolden is a core Special Teams player only….fair deal

    Burkhead though relatively unknown has potential to be a 3 down back that is very versatile & can expand the Patriots options when he’s in the backfield on any down….. New England values that type of talent this the higher 1 year prove it deal he ended up signing…very fair deal

    Blount is a one dimensional power back that gets most goal line carries & teams stack the line when he’s in there….. Limits the offense on options…he’s the CLOCK KILLER that gets most of his yardage late in the game to wear down defense & preserve the lead…. His contract is incentive laden as it should be for what his role is with the team….again very fair for what he’s asked to do….

    There is no superstar back on the Patriots that requires major cap money & wear & tear from being force fed the ball 25+ times per game as that’s not how the Patriots of fence is built or designed….The Pats just game plan & use each RB to best fit the game situation & having that VERSATILITY & DEPTH at reasonable expense makes them smart not cheap or undervaluing the position…..I TOTALLY disagree with this article & analysis of how the Patriots approach the running back position…..

  16. internetcommenter7 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:24 AM

    It has nothing to do with regard or respect. It has to do with what the market dictates. Should they give a running back twice the money they have to in order to get him to sign so as to show respect? What kind of fairy tale land is that?

  17. theandy59 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:24 AM

    You want to know why the Patriots don’t place a high value on RB’s? Antwone Smith, JR Redmond, Kevin Faulk, Corey Dillon, Lawrence Maroney, Patrick Pass, Sammy Morris, Heath Evans, Benjarvis Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, James Develin, Jonas Gray, LaGarrett Blount, James White, Dion Lewis. These are the guys who have lined up for NE for 11 AFC Championship Games and 7 Super Bowls. They have proven conclusively that RB is at best a complimentary position and can be filled easily with UFA, mid-round draft picks, and other teams cast offs.

  18. tylawspick6 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:29 AM

    It’s not really “low regard”, it’s that they throw it 40+ times per game, which means the RB would need to be Gale Sayers to get paid appropriately with 12-carries or so touches a game, to be paid the way they should be.

    No coach has more respect for the players who play the game, than Bill Belichick.

    Sorry, media. You lose again.

  19. ajsjr40 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:30 AM

    The guess is Burkhead will be this years Chris Hogan in the ‘where did he come from’ classification. Pat’s deploy RB’s in multiple roles and situations that provide maximum flexibility.

  20. maxkingpin says: Apr 7, 2017 8:35 AM

    New England has been one of the best teams year in-and-out for going on two decades, and they have “low regard” for RBs.
    Seems to me they are a step ahead of the other 31 teams.
    Maybe the other 31 teams have too high a regard for the RB position.

  21. churchofthehoody says: Apr 7, 2017 8:40 AM

    At this point Bolden is as much an RB as Slater is a WR…

  22. harrisonhits2 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:54 AM

    Its called proper cap management. Has nothing to do with “low regard” or “high regard”, its simply what their value in the cap is to the Pats.

  23. tjacks7 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:56 AM

    I like Blount but backs like him who get what’s there are a dime a dozen in today’s NFL. This draft is loaded and the Pats can find a similar or better back in it. Plus Blount will likely come relatively cheaply.

    White and Lewis are the backs that make that offense go with their ability to catch the ball and make plays. Never heard of the Burkhead guy in my life. BB must have hit the town hard that night.

  24. maust1013 says: Apr 7, 2017 8:57 AM

    How the Pats use their backs indicates it’s not a low regard for them but rather a low budget based on cap priorities. NE recognizes unlike O-lineman and QB’s the minors… er… NCAA… cranks them out ready to play in the NFL in droves and supply exceeds demand.

  25. fjw2 says: Apr 7, 2017 9:05 AM

    The Patriots running game is primarily after draws and screens. Don’t have a lot of need for a smash-mouth up the middle guy with their offensive system. Smaller, more nimble guys coming out of the backfield give them more play options.

  26. ricko1112 says: Apr 7, 2017 9:11 AM

    NE also uses those quick passes to Edleman and Amendola that go for 5-6 yards. That play replaces several running plays every game and leads to many 2nd and shorts.

    When teams move to cover that play it opens up the running game.

  27. wib22 says: Apr 7, 2017 9:16 AM

    Belicheat with his contempt for paying RBs in not good for the league. How can the NFLPA be ok with one team not allowing their bretheren to get paid? Very sad!

  28. brwmstr says: Apr 7, 2017 9:18 AM

    hey what do they know they only win every year

  29. jxt2521 says: Apr 7, 2017 9:23 AM

    They have role player backs but not a single workhorse type. It’s not that the patriots won’t pay big for them it’s that the NFL won’t.

  30. tylawspick6 says: Apr 7, 2017 9:38 AM

    Maybe the other 31 teams have too high a regard for the RB position.

    ————-

    Nailed it.

    Truthfully, in an ideal world, you have 2 makeshift plug and play “lead backs” who are interchangeable, and 2 scatbacks.

    Injuries occur, and you don’t want quality affected.

    With concussion protocol also a huge factor, the fact you need MORE options at RB, lessens the amount each RB gets, spreading that money out over 3 or 4 legit bodies within a gameplan.

    Hence, why Pitt is about to spiral into cap hell with Leveon Bell.

    Hint: Do not draft an RB too high and don’t draft a great RB, because if you don’t win it all within that 4-5 year window, you’ve wasted 4-5 years, and you’re starting all over again, or spiraling into cap hell, paying the RB 10-12 mil per.

  31. redsoxu571 says: Apr 7, 2017 9:53 AM

    This is because the Patriots are smart. Quality RB prospects grow on trees every year in the draft, and mid-round RBs often emerge as high-end performers. Just take a look at the last couple of drafts. Meanwhile, as well as they’ve drafted otherwise, a team such as the Dallas Cowboys sunk the #4 overall pick into a RB who, while good, wasn’t an better than some other mid-round RBs (Howard, Booker, etc) would have been behind that OL. Invest in the premium positions, and then make sure to expend a QUANTITY of mid-to-late-round picks on RBs (and LBs)…that’s the way to do it.

  32. twinfan24 says: Apr 7, 2017 9:56 AM

    One thing lost in this discussion is the fact that much of the success of their running game is predicated on their offensive line and the scheme. They often will pony up some money for the OL (but not overpay aging linemen), and a pass happy scheme often leaves defenders more worried about the pass and makes running a little more effective. As someone else pointed out above, they have used a LOT of RBs effectively, and only a few of those RBs have had much success elsewhere (a few have, like an aging Dillon, but not most).

  33. tylawspick6 says: Apr 7, 2017 9:59 AM

    Low regard? I’d put it down to the modified West-Coast offense which reduces dependency on the ground game. And put it on the greatest QB who ever lived… Btw, you’ve omitted Devlin, who has recently signed a 2yr contract.

    The other backs you list are all highly versatile whereas Blount is essentially “just” the vertical hammer. But that’s not why he’s unsigned. Blount turns 31 on Dec 5th and very few RBs go beyond 32. and BB knows Blount’s peak years are ending. Blount clearly wants more money and years than a repeated 1yr $1M deal, but the fact that no one else has signed him shows Belichick is right – and he has no need to up his offer unless someone else puts a much bigger deal on the table – you can’t out-poker Ol’ Poker Face.

    ———

    Nailed it again. I’ve seen some Pats fans claim Brady is still runnig the Weis/Zampese/Perkins offense. lol

    I mean, how hard is it to understand, that the Weis thing morphed into a hybrid West Coast offense under McDaniels, without any QB roll outs or movement from Brady?

    It’s not the exact same as what Walsh ran with Montana, but the ball is out.

    It’s about YAC.

  34. tylawspick6 says: Apr 7, 2017 10:03 AM

    This is because the Patriots are smart. Quality RB prospects grow on trees every year in the draft, and mid-round RBs often emerge as high-end performers. Just take a look at the last couple of drafts. Meanwhile, as well as they’ve drafted otherwise, a team such as the Dallas Cowboys sunk the #4 overall pick into a RB who, while good, wasn’t an better than some other mid-round RBs (Howard, Booker, etc) would have been behind that OL. Invest in the premium positions, and then make sure to expend a QUANTITY of mid-to-late-round picks on RBs (and LBs)…that’s the way to do it.

    ————

    No it’s not! It’s because they “cheat” and are big meanies!

    Translation?

    “I am jealous and keep hoping my owner works with Goodell to frame and cheat the Pats to lower the playing field so I can feel better about my team, even though my owner is greedy using me as a fan and lazy.”

  35. ztigr says: Apr 7, 2017 10:24 AM

    RB’s are the disposable razor of the NFL. Use one up and go out and get another one. Its the easiest skill transition from college and there is always someone available. As long as you have a QB, you can get away with a less the all-pro RB

  36. superpatriotsfan says: Apr 7, 2017 10:25 AM

    Cheaters.

  37. superpatriotsfan says: Apr 7, 2017 10:28 AM

    He wouldn’t fit in NE. He has a clean record unlike the Patriots….

  38. tylawspick6 says: Apr 7, 2017 10:42 AM

    Goodell cheats. Well known fact proven in US Federal courts.

  39. exinsidetrader says: Apr 7, 2017 11:10 AM

    Blount is free to take more than $3.15MIL elsewhere, but it first has to be offered.

  40. TheDPR says: Apr 7, 2017 12:30 PM

    I don’t think Blount is returning to the Patriots. Burkhead makes him expendable. With Lewis and White being on the small side, and Boldin being primarily a special teamer, look for them to stick a bigger RB on the practice squad for depth.

  41. harrisonhits2 says: Apr 7, 2017 12:35 PM

    “How can the NFLPA be ok with one team not allowing their bretheren to get paid? Very sad!”

    No what’s sad is the obvious lack of comprehension about the CBA that your statement demonstrates.

    As long as they are getting at least NFL vet minimum there is nothing the NFLPA can not be “ok” with.

    If Blount doesn’t want to work for the money offered he’s free to sit at home, go into broadcasting or do something else. If he’ been smart with his NFL money he can live a good lifestyle and never have to work another day in his life. If he hasn’t been that’s a personal problem, not Belichick’s or the Pats.

  42. youknowiknowitall says: Apr 7, 2017 5:39 PM

    How can the NFLPA be ok with one team not allowing their bretheren to get paid? Very sad!
    ———-
    But not as sad as your spelling. Pathetic!

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