Running back LeGarrette Blount couldn’t have picked a better time to finally fulfill his potential. Because of that, he’s about to fill up his bank account.
Saturday night’s star performer for the Patriots will become a free agent two months to the day after road-grading his team’s way to an AFC title game appearance. And 24 other NFL owners, General Managers, and coaches were able to witness Blount’s blend of power and speed on a big stage.
Blount’s career has never gone as smoothly as it did last night. A post-game sucker punch at Oregon in 2009 contributed to a draft-day free fall. Cut initially by the Titans, where he’d been signed as an undrafted free agent, Blount found a home in Tampa, rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a rookie.
Somewhat reduced opportunities resulted in a lower output the following year, and Blount gained only 772 yards. With the arrival of coach Greg Schiano in 2012, along with the use of a first-round draft pick on Doug Martin, Blount became a forgotten man, with only 41 attempts for the entire year.
During the 2013 draft, the Patriots landed Blount for a seventh-round pick and sprinter-turned-tailback-done-nothing Jeff Demps. Coach Bill Belichick called the trade “good value.”
Blount was still used relatively sparingly by the Patriots, even with Shane Vereen on short-term IR. Before Week 16, Blount had double-digit carries only six times all year, with a maximum of 14 for 65 yards in Week Three against his former team.
Over the last three games, in which Tom Brady has thrown a total of 75 passes, Blount has run the ball 64 times.
He gained 76 yards at Baltimore and scored twice. The next week, it was 189 yards and two more touchdowns against the Bills.
Then, Blount racked up a franchise-record 166 rushing yards and four touchdowns on Saturday night against the Colts.
It adds up to 431 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. In three games.
With the NFL currently divided between teams that have franchise quarterbacks and teams that are desperately searching for franchise quarterbacks, a team that is trying to get by without a franchise quarterback could consider coughing up some significant cash for Blount, who may be able to break through the three-year, $12 million ceiling that current applies to most veteran running backs who hit the market.