Blount's New Deal Reshapes Patriots RBs
When the Patriots traded for former Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount on day three of the NFL Draft, Bill Belichick and the organization made what is utterly the definition of a low-risk, high-reward move.
To be clear, Blount took a big pay cut to come to New England. According to Brian McIntyre of Shutdown Corner, Blount restructured a deal that reduced his cap hit in 2013 by $1.07 million. Instead of making a base salary of $1.25 million, Blount’s restructured deal allows him to make just $630,000 – the minimum for a fourth-year NFL player.
Now whether or not Blount will even make the team in 2013 is still very, very unclear. But that’s part of the beauty of his restructured minimum deal – it won’t affect the Patriots too much should Blount not make the roster. And giving up Jeff Demps, who missed the entire 2012 season due to injury, wasn’t a huge loss for the organization. The biggest difference between Blount and Demps last season is that Blount actually saw the field.
On Tuesday, the Patriots also announced two minor personnel changes at running back. The team signed undrafted free agent back Akeem Shavers, who played at Purdue, and moved undrafted free agent signee Quentin Hines to the injured reserve list. Hines apparently suffered an injury during rookie minicamps.
So the Patriots’ backfield is starting to shape up for the 2013 season, and each back has a different role.
Obviously Stevan Ridley enters training camp as the lead back after his breakout 2012 campaign. Ridley finished the regular season with 12 rushing touchdowns and 1,263 yards on 290 carries. Shane Vereen will be number two on the depth chart, but is expected to take more of a Danny Woodhead role on third downs, since his pass-catching abilities are solid.
Then there’s Blount and similarly built Brandon Bolden, both of whom could be ideal goal line runners with their bulky frames. And, depending on how the rest of the lineup rounds out (Leon Washington will more than likely fill a roster space primarily for kickoff returns), Shavers and James Develin will likely be practice squad players. Shavers, however, showed his versatility in 2012 at Purdue with his 871 rushing yards and six touchdowns, coupled with 370 receiving yards and three receiving scores. Maybe Belichick has a larger plan for him.
It’s a topsy-turvy world where the Patriots’ ground game seems more stable heading into the new season than the passing game, especially with Tom Brady still under center. But it seems the team has it all figured out: Ridley will get the majority of first and second down carries, Vereen will likely be the versatile third-down back, and Blount and/or Bolden will see short-yardage scenarios. It’s early, but it all seems to make sense.