Mike Gillislee signing a dud in New England

February 05, 2018 - 4:52 pm

Last offseason, the New England Patriots signed away Bills restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee to a 2-year offer sheet worth $6.4 million. Of course, the Bills decided not to match the offer and instead receive a 5th round pick. They used that pick on linebacker Matt Milano, and most people would probably tell you that's a win for the Bills. 

If you didn't keep tabs on Gillislee throughout the season, it couldn't have started better. In the season opener against Kansas City, he rushed for 3 touchdowns. Bills fans immediately put their head in their hands and said "here we go again". The Patriots had took Chris Hogan from the Bills the year before, he played great, and now Gillislee would too, right? Nope. 

Gillislee continued to have a large role in the Patriots offense early in the season, receiving double digit carries in 8 of their first 9 games. During that stretch he did not get to 100 yards in a game, had 1 touchdown past Week 1, and averaged less than 4 yards a carry. That was pretty much it for Gillislee. He would find himself on the inactive list week after week after week, while Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and James White split the backfield. Gillislee played just one more game. Week 16 against the Bills, carrying the ball 6 times for 28 yards and a touchdown. He played due to injuries to Burkhead and White. Gillislee wouldn't be active for the Patriots again. 

As expected, Gillislee was inactive for the Super Bowl. He was interestingly seen eating pickles at halftime. An interesting choice for a Super Bowl snack. 

Going forward in New England's backfield, James White received a 3-year extension before the season. Rex Burkhead is a free agent, but he played great throughout the year with over 500 total yards and 8 touchdowns in 10 games. Dion Lewis is also a free agent, but also played great with over 1,100 total yards and 9 touchdowns. It seems likely he sticks around as the Patriots are the only team that ever game him a significant opportunity. 

Gillislee looks like the favorite to be the odd man out. What hurts him more than the others is his lack of use/ability as a receiver. Burkhead, Lewis, and White can line up in the backfield and out wide. The three all had over 30 receptions this year, and White had a huge number with 72. Gillislee caught the ball just 1 time in 9 games. 

The Patriots can easily get out of Gillislee's contract for the 2018 season. He received $4 million of his $6.4 million in the first year. Oh and the Patriots would have exactly 0 dollars and 0 cents of dead salary cap for cutting him. They can get off scotch free by letting him go. 

At 27 years old and just a year removed from a 600 yard, 9 touchdown season as a backup, Gillislee would certainly find a landing spot somewhere. Maybe even a reunion in Buffalo. The Bills did not get production from the backup running back position for pretty much the entire 2017 season, save for a few good games from Travaris Cadet fresh off the street. "Touchdown Mike" could be an option for the Bills, getting him back on a lower salary then the Bills wanted to pay for him this past year. 

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