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Do the New England Patriots need LeGarrette Blount next season?

Before the May 9 deadline, the New England Patriots issued an unrestricted free agent tender to LeGarrette Blount, thus potentially keeping their leader of touchdowns and rushing yards from last season.

The Patriots also have Dion Lewis and Super Bowl LI hero James White on the roster, but neither of them can replicate Blount’s playing style. So, do the Patriots need Blount in the team?

How Blount dominated from the Pats’ backfield

LeGarrette Blount embraced his niche last season, but then evolved his game when his team needed it most. He went from being a punch-it- in type of rusher, mainly used in goal-line situations, to being able to rip through the line of scrimmage anywhere on the field, and then take big yards.

The Oregon product is a big unit of a running back, standing at just 6’0’’ but weighing in at 250 lbs. He managed to finish eighth in total yards among running backs last season, finishing with the most touchdowns in the position.

The rushers who finished with more yards or ended with similar standing are mostly of a very different breed of running back, with the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, and David Johnson all being much faster and more nimble than Blount.

Instead of looking for the opening created for him, Blount was able to punch straight through the line of scrimmage, using his immense power to blast to the first few yards of gain. He also displayed his incredible athleticism numerous times, being able to run the outside, sometimes hurdling incoming defensemen.

He allowed the Patriots to move the chains even when the pass wasn’t an option, and he became enough of a threat that defenses were forced to be more inclined to watch the rush than the pass.

What the tender offer means for Blount

The New England Patriots have managed to greatly protect their interests by making a tender offer to LeGarrette Blount.

Firstly, if he does sign a contract elsewhere, it increases their chances of getting a better compensatory pick. Secondly, the Pats could re-sign their lead rusher for just 110 percent of his 2016 pay, which would be $1.1 million. Finally, if Blount doesn’t sign with another team before July 22, the Patriots will have exclusive negotiation rights through to the start of Week 11 of the regular season.

Blount would likely want a bit more of a pay increase after the tremendous season he had in 2016, and may not want to get lost in the crowded New England backfield. There’s no doubt that he’ll have other suitors in the league and one team who is in particular need of a commanding running back is the New York Giants.

The favorable Patriots schedule

There’s good reason why the Patriots are favored to finish atop the AFC and win Super Bowl LII, their schedule is very pass-friendly, and now that the already very strong New England Patriots have added Brandin Cooks, they look near-unstoppable – thus making them a great team to back with a free bet for those looking to place bets on the upcoming season.

The few teams that pose a threat to New England’s passing game are the Dolphins, Bills, Broncos, Jets, and Texans: all of which LeGarrette Blount found success against last season.

The beast of a running back clocked in a combined 524 yards and eight touchdowns across the seven games that he played against those team.

It just so happens that three of those teams are New England’s AFC East rivals, so with all of them hosting decent pass defenses, it would be worth bringing back the man who they struggled to contain last season.

Do the Patriots need Blount?

This season Tom Brady will have a wealth of top-class options in the passing game, which they may still be able to operate against the tightest pass defenses. But, without a mighty presence like Blount in the backfield, teams will have more success in stifling the New England receivers, to an extent.

Then there’s the added question mark over the fitness issues of Dion Lewis and the impact that James White – who found more success when receiving – can have over the course of a season without a powerful running back with whom to alternate. Blount was dependable throughout the season despite his bruising style of play, so having him on the team would certainly be a plus.

But, when it comes down to it, this is the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick and his staff will make a successful team out of whatever they have. The Beli-tricks will see them through, with or without Blount.

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