Gillislee will officially join the Patriots after the Bills declined to match the two-year, $6.4 million offer sheet he signed with New England last week, Chris Brown of the Bills' official site reports. Gillislee now enters a backfield already headlined by Dion Lewis (hamstring), James White and Rex Burkhead, effectively ruling out the possibility of LeGarrette Blount returning to the Patriots in the process. Although Buffalo's decision not to match will cost New England a fifth-round pick, Gillislee provides the team with an ascending backfield talent. In 15 games last year as LeSean McCoy's primary backup, Gillislee rushed 101 times for 577 yards and eight touchdowns, while catching nine of 11 targets for 50 yards and another score.
The Patriots have extended an offer sheet to Gillislee, who is a restricted free agent, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports. Per the report, their offer is for two years and a total of $6.4 million, including $4 million in the first year of the proposed deal. According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, if the Bills don't match the offer, they'd receive a fifth-round draft pick from the Patriots. If Gillislee does end up with New England, it would effectively end the team's interest in re-signing power back LeGarrette Blount, who led the NFL with 18 rushing TDs in 2016, while averaging 3.9 yards a carry. Meanwhile, the 26-year-old Gillislee put up some intriguing numbers of his own, running 101 times for 577 yards (5.7 YPC) and eight TDs in 15 games for Buffalo. He also caught nine passes for 50 yards and a receiving score. The Patriots' current backfield is comprised of newcomer Rex Burkhead, along with pass-catching aces Dion Lewis (hamstring) and James White, with D.J. Foster and Brandon Bolden in reserve.
Gillislee recently visited with the Patriots, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports. A restricted free agent, Gillislee carries an original-round tender, which means any team that signs him to an offer sheet would have to surrender a fifth-round pick if the Bills decide not to match the contract. With other options still on the table, New England probably isn't ready to seriously consider giving up a fifth-round pick for a running back of Gillislee's caliber. The team could still re-sign LeGarrette Blount, sign Adrian Peterson or another veteran, or even use an early draft pick on a running back. The Patriots are in the market for a power runner to fill the role Blount so capably handled the past two-plus seasons. Gillislee likely will end up playing at least one more season in Buffalo behind LeSean McCoy (ankle).
Gillislee was tendered by the Bills on Tuesday. The tender will allow the Bills to match any offer Gillislee receives in the upcoming free agent window. The fifth-year back proved himself as one of the top backup running backs in the NFL last season, recording 101 attempts for 577 yards and nine total touchdowns. Buffalo's run-heavy offensive style creates a lot of opportunity for its backs, as the team averaged a league-high 164.4 rushing yards per game in 2016. Even though Lesean McCoy saw the brunt of the benefits from the Bill's rushing attack, Gillislee remained a very relevant piece of the offense. Considering McCoy's tendency to get injured, Gillislee should be one of the most valuable handcuffs available in 2017.
Gillislee carried 15 times for 40 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's game against the Jets. He also caught his only target for an additional 10 yards in the 30-10 loss. Gillislee saw his role expand as LeSean McCoy (ankle) was forced to leave the game, and despite his inefficient average of 2.7 yards per carry he was able to carve out a useful fantasy line due to the volume of touches he received. Although Gillislee played second fiddle to McCoy for most of the season, he will finish with an impressive total of eight touchdowns and averaged 5.7 yards per carry overall. He will be a free agent in the offseason and should command interest after a successful campaign as a part-time player in 2016.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||18||96||1||2||10||0||16|