The Patriots have always been willing to do business in unconventional fashion and earlier this week they did just that with LeGarrette Blount. Various reports indicated the team invoked a rarely-used unrestricted free agent tender just ahead of the deadline to do so on May 9, giving the Patriots at least some rights to Blount in the coming months.
Here's how it works. After the May 9 deadline, Blount could have signed elsewhere and not counted toward the compensatory pick formula for 2018. By offering a tender, which amounts to 110 percent of Blount's 2016 salary, the Patriots ensured they would gain a pick should another team sign the running back and that team would also have to surrender one.
If Blount signs the tender he would earn roughly $1.1 million plus incentives provided he makes the team. He would join a suddenly crowded backfield that includes newcomers Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead, each of whom received significant free agent dollars, as well as returners James White, Dion Lewis, Brandon Bolden and D.J. Foster.
A report out of Baltimore indicated the Ravens were interested in signing Blount and may have been waiting for the May 9 deadline to do so as to avoid losing a compensatory pick in the process. Now, it will be interesting to see if any team decides to make a move on the 30-year-old back, who is coming of a career year with 18 touchdowns and 1,161 yards rushing. The Giants and Lions were also mentioned as possible landing spots for Blount.
If no team signs Blount before July 22, he would only be allowed to play for New England in 2017. If he remains unsigned at that point he would have until Week 10 to sign the tender in order to play for the Patriots.
Blount was the only unrestricted free agent to receive a tender this year, and in fact the mechanism is used so infrequently few can remember the last time it was put in place.
The Patriots likely aren't anticipating Blount signing the tender but are now in position to receive compensation in return, whether it be via trade or a compensatory pick.