(Photo courtesy of bostonherald.com)
The Patriots were vey active on Tuesday. They signed former Bills running back Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet, restructured Danny Amendola’s contract, signed the Super Bowl 51 hero James White to a three year contract extension, and had the Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler sign his restricted-free-agent tender.
Of course, the Malcolm Butler news does not necessarily mean that this is the end of his offseason story. Many insiders around the league think that the Patriots are likely to deal Butler now that he has signed and try to get back into the first round of the draft. One trade partner that would make sense is the New Orleans Saints, who met with Butler earlier this offseason but did not sign him because they would have to send their first round pick to the Patriots in return. The Saints obtained the Patriots first round pick (32nd overall) in exchange for Brandin Cooks. That pick would probably be on the table if a Butler trade is discussed between the two teams.
The Patriots had plenty of salary cap room to work with going into the day. The rich got richer when Danny Amendola agreed to take a pay cut. He was originally scheduled to make $6 million next season, but will now make $1.6 million. I have not always been a huge fan of Amendola, but it is hard to not respect this move on his part. Not a lot of players would agree to a $4.4 million pay cut.
The moves at the running back position could prove to be significant as well. It appears as if the writing is on the wall that Legarrette Blount is on his way out of Foxboro. The Patriots signed Mike Gillislee to a two year, $6.4 million offer sheet. This means that if the Bills do not match this offer, and they likely will not, then he will play in New England this season. Gillislee performed very well in 2016, but was not used often in the Bills offense. He carried the ball 101 yards for 577 yards. Gillislee will now likely split time with James White and Dion Lewis in the backfield.
Overall, it has been a very successful offseason for the defending Super Bowl champions. Their biggest move was retaining the centerpiece of their defense, Dont’a Hightower. Retaining Butler is a huge deal too in my opinion. I just hope that they really do keep him and not trade him for a draft pick. Bill Belichick has shown the world time and time again the he does not need high draft picks to find very useful players. There are not a lot of huge holes in this team anyways that need to be filled through the draft. It is not likely that anything that they get in return for Malcom Butler would match what he brings to the defense. I would love to see a secondary with Devin McCourty, Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore. I think that with the team that the Patriots have in place now, they should be the clear favorites to win Super Bowl 52.