The Bills have assigned restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee the original round/right of first refusal tender, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. As such, Gillislee is now slated to earn $1.797MM for the 2017 campaign, but Buffalo will attempt to hammer out an extension with its backup runner, per Rapoport.
Typically, PFR won’t devote a full post to restricted free agents that aren’t tendered at the first- or second-round level. But Gillislee is an intriguing case, especially given that he could interest another team given the slight draft pick compensation attached to him. While the Bills reportedly don’t want to lose Gillislee, they haven’t placed much of a barrier between him and an offer sheet.
Because Gillislee was drafted in the fifth round, a rival club would only have to sacrifice a fifth-rounder in order to sign away the 26-year-old back. Buffalo would have the option of matching any contract offered by another team, but for another $1MM or so, the Bills could have placed the second-round tender on Gillislee and likely warded off any potential suitors. Gillislee, who appeared in 15 games last season, averaged an NFL-best 5.7 yards per carry on 101 attempts behind LeSean McCoy.
Of course, that extra $1MM could be important for the Bills this offseason, as the club only has about $22.5MM in cap space and several free agents — including Stephon Gilmore and Robert Woods — it could consider re-signing.
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