The Patriots declined Michel's fifth-year option on Monday, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports. New England declined to keep Michel around for 2022 in exchange for guaranteeing him a $4.5 million salary, but the team did pick up Isaiah Wynn's $10.4 million fifth-year option. The 26-year-old Michel was efficient in limited action last season, with 79 carries for 449 yards (5.7 YPC) and one rushing touchdown in nine contests, but he only handled more than 10 carries in a single contest. Per Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Michel is primed to serve as a one-two punch alongside Damien Harris for the 2021 campaign, after which he'll hit free agency.
Michel rushed 16 times for 76 yards and caught all three of his targets for 60 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 28-14 win over the Jets. Michel worked as the lead back in the season finale, as no other Patriots running back got a carry. He came into this one with just four catches all season but took advantage of his chance to shine as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, highlighted by a 31-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Michel finishes the season with 79 carries for 449 yards and one rushing touchdown. The 2018 first-round pick is likely to be part of a backfield committee next season, but this is a promising finish to a campaign that was largely derailed by a slow start and a midseason quadriceps injury.
Michel is expected to serve as the Patriots' lead ball carrier Sunday against the Jets with Damien Harris (ankle) listed as out for the contest, Zach Cox of NESN.com reports. While Harris sat out New England's last two games, Michel picked up 10 carries in both contests, racking up 143 yards between Weeks 15 and 16. Had the Patriots not been playing from behind in both weeks, Michel likely would have been in store for more work, but he instead had a fairly even split of the snaps with pass-catching specialist James White. With Harris again sidelined for Sunday's season finale, Michel could get the chance to pick up more carries than he did in either of the previous two games, as the Patriots will be a mild favorite over the 2-13 Jets. Expect White to once again handle change-of-pace duties, while third-stringer J.J. Taylor looms as a depth option.
Michel rushed 10 times for 69 yards in Monday night's 38-9 loss to the Bills. Michel started with teammate Damien Harris (ankle) sidelined and began with a bang, rushing for 29 yards on New England's second offensive play. With more hard runs afterward, Michel put together another solid display, topping 65 yards for the second straight week after doing so just once earlier this season. Whether Harris returns for Week 17 versus the Jets or not, Michel has seemingly done enough lately to garner a decent workload to close out the campaign.
With Damien Harris (ankle) inactive, Michel is in line to head the Patriots backfield Monday night against the Bills, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe reports. Also on hand are change-of-pace back James White and rookie reserve J.J. Taylor, but as was the case in the Patriots' Week 15 loss to the Dolphins, Michel should serve as the team's top early down back Monday. Against Miami, the 2018 first-rounder logged 74 yards on 10 carries and added an eight-yard reception.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||178||764||5||9||86||0||112|