Patriots reportedly give Super Bowl hero James White a three-year extension
White is now under contract for four more seasons
James White, who repeatedly gashed the Falcons in the Super Bowl before scoring the game-winning touchdown, likely won't be leaving New England anytime soon. On Tuesday, he reportedly landed a new contract.
Keeping White, 25, around for the long-term just made too much sense for the Patriots. Since joining the Patriots in 2014, White has racked up 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage. He also set a Super Bowl record with 14 receptions against the Falcons. In that game, White totaled 139 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage.
It really served as the perfect representation of his value to the Patriots, a team that loves backs who can come out of the backfield as a receiver. In the past, guys like Kevin Faulk and Shane Vereen have played that role. It looks like White will be that guy for the foreseeable future.
Which brings us to Dion Lewis, because White's extension isn't exactly great news for him. Lewis burst onto the scene in 2015 with 4.8 yards per carry and 10.8 yards per reception before an ACL tear ended his season. That injury ended up costing much of his 2016 season and he never replicated his success. Last season, Lewis averaged 4.4 yards per carry and 5.5 yards per catch in a limited role. It was especially telling that Bill Belichick relied extensively on White -- not Lewis -- in the Super Bowl while using a game plan that heavily featured a pass-catching back.
The Patriots' running back room is already crowded with White, Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and Brandon Bolden. White and Burkhead should be roster locks while Bolden will have a solid chance to make the roster. The Patriots also reportedly signed Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet Tuesday, which means they'll add another talented back to the roster if the Bills choose to not match the offer. So, the Patriots could decide that Lewis is the odd man out, though they could potentially get something in return if they were to shop him.
White's extension could also simply be about the long run. As the Providence Journal's Mark Daniels noted, Lewis and Burkhead will be unrestricted free agents in 2018. And if there's one thing we do know about the Patriots, it's that they're always prepared.
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