East Rumors: Pats, Blount, Pugh, Mangold

The Patriots could offer a tender to free agent running back LeGarrette Blount in an attempt to retain him for the 2017 season, as Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap details (Twitter links). Unrestricted free agents that aren’t signed by May 9 are eligible to be tendered a one-year contract by the player’s original club for 110% of his prior year salary (for Blount, that would amount to roughly $1.1MM). Not only would such a maneuver allow New England to be in line for a 2018 compensatory pick if Blount signs elsewhere, but it would give the Patriots exclusive negotiating rights with the veteran back if he doesn’t land a contract by July 22. This option isn’t exclusive to New England — any team can do this with its unsigned UFAs — but Fitzgerald notes that such a move would be a typical Patriots strategy.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • After playing out his fifth-year option in 2017, Giants guard Justin Pugh will become a free agent next spring, and he’s aware of the rising price tags for interior offensive linemen. “The guard market has gone up,” said Pugh, according to Dan Duggan of NJ.com. “Do you even know who some of those guys are that were getting paid? I feel good about where I’m at.” New York is reportedly interested in signing Pugh to an extension, but the 26-year-old will likely have expensive demands after grading out as the No. 16 guard in the league last season, per Pro Football Focus. Kevin Zeitler reset the guard market this offseason after inking a deal with Cleveland that pays him $12MM annually.
  • Free agent center Nick Mangold confirmed previous reports that the Jets didn’t make a real effort to keep him on the roster at a lower price before releasing him outright (Twitter links via SiriusXM NFL Radio). Mangold, 33, was later asked about the possibility of joining the Patriots and quipped Bill Belichick isn’t overly fond of him after the pair’s “battles” in the AFC East. On Monday, Mangold indicated he is still working to get back to full health and didn’t rule out the possibility of retiring. Recently, PFR listed Mangold as a potential external option for the Saints if they need a fill-in for injured center Max Unger.
  • Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich is changing his jersey number from 94 to 44 so that can appear eligible on offensive plays, as Tom Rock of Newsday writes. While Herzlich didn’t identify which offensive position he’ll be playing, tight end and/or fullback would seem to make the most sense. Herzlich has played tight end on New York’s scout team, per Rock, but otherwise hasn’t seen time on offense since high school.
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