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.