When the Patriots signed running back Mike Gillislee last year, it was a case of the rich getting richer. Gillislee, a restricted free agent, averaged 5.7 yards per carry for the Bills in 2016 and his future seemed extremely bright in the Patriots’ backfield. One year later, the Patriots find themselves with an embarrassment of riches in the backfield, and that could leave Gillislee without a spot on the roster.
Despite rushing for three touchdowns in the Pats’ season opener against the Chiefs, Gillislee was left off of the active roster for much of the season. Although he had some decent performances in a limited role and averaged a respectable 4.2 yards per carry in October, Gillislee was way behind Dion Lewis in the pecking order and also snaps to Rex Burkhead and James White. When it came time for the playoffs, the Patriots did not ask Gillislee to suit up.
Lewis is out of the picture after signing a lucrative free agent deal with the Titans, but the competition is still fierce in New England. The Patriots used a first-round pick to select Sony Michel, who projects to be the team’s leading rusher. White, Burkhead, and Branden Bolden are still in the fold, and the latest word is that former Bengal Jeremy Hill may have a better chance of making the final cut than Gillislee.
Patriots fans were rightfully ecstatic about plucking Gillislee from the rival Bills last year, but he’s no longer a focal point of the team’s plans. Gillislee’s two-year, $6.4MM deal has no guaranteed money remaining, so the team can save $2.18MM by cutting the Florida product with no dead money left on the cap. If Gillislee can’t step it up in camp, that’ll be the likely outcome for the 27-year-old.
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