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Bills let Gillislee become a Patriot

The Super Bowl champs continue to bolster their roster.

Restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee officially became a Patriot on Monday after his former team, the Buffalo Bills, declined to match New England’s two-year contract offer. The Bills had until 4 p.m. Eastern today to make a decision after the Patriots extended the offer to Gillislee last week. Buffalo announced its decision at the last possible moment.

As compensation for Buffalo, New England must now send the Bills a fifth-round draft choice. The Patriots have two – 163 and 183 overall – and presumably will send the higher one, which they received in a trade with Denver last season. The lower pick is a compensatory choice awarded this offseason.

Gillislee’s new contract reportedly pays him $4 million in 2017 and $2.4 next year. He joins a Patriots backfield that includes returning players James White, Dion Lewis, Brandon Bolden, and free agent acquisition Rex Burkhead.

The addition of the 26-year-old Gillislee (5-11, 220) likely means the Patriots won’t re-sign veteran free agent LeGarrette Blount. His 18 touchdowns in 2016 set personal and franchise records, while his career-high 1,161 rushing yards helped New England capture its fifth Super Bowl title.

Meanwhile, with the Patriots already a week into their offseason strength and conditioning program, Gillislee will have some catching up to do once he arrives in Foxborough.

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