FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots are pretty well set at the running back position going forward. If there were any doubts, Stevan Ridley silenced them with a 1,200-yard season in 2012. But even that didn’t keep the Patriots from adding some depth at running back.
While looking for a landing spot for return specialist Jeff Demps, the Patriots came across an opportunity to acquire a talented veteran running back. So, they sent Demps and a seventh-round pick to the Buccaneers and in turn landed LeGarrette Blount.
For Bill Belichick, the trade wasn’t personal wasn’t personal as far as Demps thinking about pursuing off-field endeavors as a track athlete. Instead, as always, it was all about getting value.
“Good value,” Belichick said of acquiring Blount. “If we can get a good football player, and the price is right. If it’s a good player at a right price, and it’s affordable. … We just felt the overall trade was good for our football team.”
Blount offers the Patriots just that, too: Value.
He went undrafted on his own draft day in 2010 because of some behavioral issues at Oregon — mainly this punch after a loss to Boise State. But he established himself as one of the NFL’s best young running backs during his first two seasons in Tampa, even eclipsing 1,000 yards in just 13 games as a rookie.
Just as he was beginning to realize his potential as a pro, Blount’s attitude got the best of him once again. The Bucs drafted rookie running back Doug Martin in the first round in 2012, which Blount took as a sign of disrespect. New head coach Greg Schiano soured on Blount, and it showed in his playing time. Blount was given only 41 carries in 2012, just one season after rushing a team-high 184 times the season before.
Blount’s issues seem daunting, but it’s nothing the Patriots haven’t overcome in the past. It worked with Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon. It seems to be working with Aqib Talib, too. Albert Haynesworth and Chad Johnson are the outliers here, but Belichick seems to have high hopes that Blount will be adjust like the former and not the latter.
“[We are] excited to have LeGarrette here,” Belichick said. “He’s a good football player. Happy to add him to our team.”
Still just 26, Blount has plenty of tread left on those tires. So, it’s less about him being able to make the roster and more about his will to do so. He will probably be battling with second-year back Brandon Bolden for a roster spot, and if the will is there then he will find a way onto the team come Week 1.
Blount has all the talent to be an impact player for the Patriots, but only if he is willing to conform to the Patriot Way. Surprising as it may be, Belichick does have patience. He’s willing to wait with rookies and new additions but not for repeat offenders.
If Blount really wants to make things work in New England — and he is more than capable of doing so — then he’ll need to prove it on the field, off the field and in the weight room.
This might be his last chance. We’ll see if he makes the most of it.