FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots had made their primary intentions with running back LeGarrette Blount clear for the 2017 season by signing free-agent rushers Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead to contracts that have a maximum value of more than $3 million per season, and issuing Blount’s jersey number to undrafted free-agent cornerback D.J. Killings.
So while the Patriots kept the door open for Blount’s return by placing the “May 9 free-agent tender” on him, the move was less about ensuring Blount being part of the team’s roster and more about protecting their compensatory draft picks while potentially directing him outside of the AFC.
According to OvertheCap.com, the Patriots can currently expect fourth- and fifth-round compensatory draft picks.
After May 9, Blount wouldn’t have counted in the Patriots’ favor with compensatory picks if the team had not placed the tender on him. The tender preserved those picks as things currently stand, and could potentially improve them depending on how things unfold this season in the complex compensatory-pick formula.
Meanwhile, perhaps just as importantly to the Patriots, Blount is moving outside the AFC where he is less of a threat to them.
The Baltimore Ravens would have been a natural fit for him, as ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley pointed out, but they appeared to pull back after the May 9 tender because signing Blount would have affected their compensatory-pick formula negatively.
That’s an added bonus for the Patriots.