As reported by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the New England Patriots have signed Buffalo Bills restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet. The deal is for two years, $6.4 million total, with $4 million of that loaded into year one.
The Bills have five days to match the deal. If they don’t, they’ll receive New England’s fifth-round pick, which is 163rd overall (acquired in a trade with Denver). With limited cap space in 2017, it would be a surprise if Buffalo matched as it would at least double his $1.6 million cap hit.
Gillislee, 26, ran for 577 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games last season. He started one, against the Patriots in Buffalo, where he ran 12 times for 85 yards and a touchdown in a 41-25 loss to New England.
The Patriots had been doing plenty of shopping around for running backs this offseason, after last year’s leading rusher LeGarrette Blount was allowed to walk. The team still has Dion Lewis and James White, two backs who are physically and stylistically similar to Gillislee.
Whether the Bills match the offer or not likely depends on how new head coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison feel about Gillislee’s potential impact on the roster. With LeSean McCoy still in tow and Jonathan Williams on the roster, it’s entirely possible that the Bills will take the pick and let “Touchdown Mike” walk.
We’ll know the answer this week.