The New England Patriots might be realizing they had a good thing going with a three-man running back rotation. As the running back corps struggled all of last season and Tom Brady tried to make something out of nothing, the running backs thrived. LeGarrette Blount put up a career-high season and while he is in high demand in free agency, the Patriots are trying to keep him in New England.
The running back market is just now starting to heat up three weeks into free agency. Blount along with Knowshon Moreno and Maurice Jones-Drew are starting to take their respective visits. While it appeared that New England would not be in the running to retain Blount, it is now being reported otherwise.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reports that Blount is expected to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the Patriots are making their pitch to keep him on the team. Blount finished 2013 with 772 yards and seven carries, playing alongside Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden. Blount finished one yard shy of being the leading rusher for the Patriots. His best game came against the Indianapolis Colts when Blount put up four touchdowns and 166 yards off just 24 carries in the postseason win.
Blount could be in high demand. The NFL Network is reporting that Moreno is likely headed to the Miami Dolphins as the two sides continue to negotiate a contract. Jones-Drew seems to be a favorite for the Steelers, but the aging veteran is requesting over $3 million per season on a multi-year deal. Pittsburgh will not make that move for a running back that is on the wrong side of 30 and coming off two unproductive seasons. Blount could be the best available depending on his contract demands.
The Patriots would be wise to retain Blount. Ridley struggled with fumbles much of the season. Shane Vereen had injuries. Blount was the most consistent back for New England. The Patriots have made a conscious effort to revamp their receiving corps, but having Blount back on the offense will add another dimension.
If the Patriots miss out on Blount, they could target another veteran to add to the mix. Players like Willis McGahee or Andre Brown are still available. Both backs are not as good as Blount, but would still have something to add to a three-man rotation and would come cheap for New England.