James White Wasn’t Expecting Patriots Contract Extension After Career Year

FOXBORO, Mass. — Even after a career season and an all-time Super Bowl performance, James White didn’t expect to leave the 2017 NFL offseason with a new contract in hand.

The New England Patriots running back, who was set to become a free agent in 2018, signed a three-year, $12 million contract extension in April that runs through the 2020 season. White said the Patriots initiated negotiations on the deal, which he called “a surprising development.”

“I was just going to come out and work hard (this season), and they brought the offer to me,” White said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. “I accepted it. At the same time, it’s not going to change who I am. I’ll continue to work, continue to do whatever this team asks me to do and just follow the lead of all our leaders and the coaches.”

White, New England’s top pass-catching back last season, racked up a career-high 60 receptions (the most ever by a Patriots running back during the Bill Belichick era) for 551 yards and five touchdowns. He went on to have the game of his life in Super Bowl LI, catching a Super Bowl-record 14 passes, amassing 139 all-purpose yards and scoring three touchdowns in a 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons.

“I’m happy to still be here,” said White, who celebrated his 25th birthday two days before the Super Bowl. “I’m happy to have more opportunities to be with this team. I’m just very excited to have that opportunity.”

The Patriots’ running back room is crowded following the offseason additions of Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, but White is in no danger of losing his roster spot. That’s a change from last summer, when White was viewed as a player on the roster bubble entering training camp.

“(The security) is definitely nice, but at the same time, you still have to work,” he said. “Nothing’s for certain, so you’ve got to go out there and prove yourself each and every day. I just want to continue to work with this team to become a better player each and every day.”

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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