Former Patriots RB Blount agrees to new contract with the Eagles

Former Patriots RB Blount agrees to new contract with the Eagles

There was a time when LeGarrette Blount was willing to tell anyone who would listen that he hoped to spend the remainder of his career in New England. After putting together an 18-touchdown season in 2016, though, the best offer out there for the free-agent running back was somewhere else. 

The Eagles announced on Wednesday that Blount, 30, has agreed to a new contract to join them in Philadelphia. According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the deal is for one year and worth a maximum of $2.8 million. The Giants and Cardinals also had offers in to Blount, per Rapoport.

"LeGarrette Blount is a tough, physical runner who has enjoyed a great deal of success in New England and we are excited about adding him to this football team," Eagles GM Howie Roseman said in a statement. "We feel good about the depth and competition that we have created at the running back position and we are looking forward to getting the guys out on the field next week for OTAs."

Blount joins a stable of backs in Philly that includes smaller runners like Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and rookie Donnel Pumphrey. If the team is looking for a between-the-tackles hammer, Blount is the early favorite to be their best option. 

The Patriots applied the May 9 tender to Blount (1,161 yards on 299 carries in 2016) last week, but the 6-foot, 250-pound back did not sign. By issuing the tender, the Patriots retained the ability to have Blount count toward their compensatory pick formula in 2018 if he signed elsewhere. 

In New England, there is depth to absorb Blount's loss. The team signed Mike Gillislee as a restricted free agent and Rex Burkhead as an unrestricted free agent earlier this offseason. James White and Dion Lewis will also compete for work in the Patriots backfield. 

Brandon Bolden and DJ Foster are also on the running-back depth chart, as is undrafted rookie LeShun Daniels Jr. Daniels is the heaviest back on the roster -- not including fullback James Develin (6-3, 255) -- at 6-feet, 225 pounds.

Patriots release Shea McClellin

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Patriots release Shea McClellin

Shea McClellin will be blocking kicks for somebody else next season. 

The Patriots announced Monday they've released the veteran linebacker, ending his tenure with the team after two seasons.  ESPN's Field Yates broke the news.

The Pats signed McClellin to a three-year deal prior to the 2016 season, but that was the only season in which he played for the team. McClellin missed all of last season due to injury. Prior to coming to New England, McClellin played four seasons with the Bears, who chose him 19th overall in 2012. 

McClellin's biggest contribution with the Pats came when he blocked a Justin Tucker kick in Week 14 of the 2016 season against the Ravens.

Pinning down the best lesson Vince Wilfork could teach Danny Shelton

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Pinning down the best lesson Vince Wilfork could teach Danny Shelton

When the Patriots traded for Danny Shelton earlier this offseason, sending a 2019 third-rounder to Cleveland in exchange for the defensive tackle, they traded for a player who was already being mentored by one of their own. 

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Shelton explained that one of his agents put him in touch with former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork so that Shelton could pick up some tips from one of the best defensive tackles in football of the past 15 years. 

"For me, he’s someone that I still look up to even when he was with the Texans," Shelton said. "I got the opportunity to reach out to him and kind of pick his brain and just learn a couple of tips from him. He’s been really responsive. He’s been a guy that has been really helpful this offseason and I’m looking forward to reaching out more and learning some more from him."

When Shelton was coming out of the University of Washington in 2015,'s Lance Zierlein's "NFL comparison" was Wilfork. Both carried similar builds -- Shelton is now listed at 335 pounds -- and both were viewed as surprisingly good athletes for their body types. Shelton was also viewed as the top two-gapping tackle in the draft that year, which is exactly what the Patriots ask their interior linemen to do. 

Shelton has made good on those projections over the last couple of years. Last season, he was a key part of a Browns defense that ranked fourth against the run by Football Outsiders in terms of DVOA. In 2016, Shelton was ranked by Pro Football Focus as its eighth-best interior lineman against the run. Per PFF, he was second that year -- behind only Damon Harrison -- in terms of the number of run stops he recorded from the interior.

It's clear that Shelton, the No. 12 overall pick three years ago, understands what his strengths are. 

"Honestly, I’m just going to go with whatever Coach [Bill Belichick] wants me to do," Shelton said. "My best feature is stopping the run, so if he wants me to play at a specific position I’ll do it, and I’ll make sure I do my job for the team’s success."

So how can Wilfork help? If he has any tips on how to be a consistent player from the inside in Belichick's system, that could go a long way. Over the course of Wilfork's 13-year career, few defensive tackles were as effective from week to week and year to year. Wilfork played at least 830 snaps in four of his last five seasons with the Patriots (he was injured in 2013), and even during his two seasons with the Texans, he averaged about 600 snaps per year. He made five Pro Bowls with the Patriots and was named a First or Second-Team All-Pro four times.

In what form might Wilfork's advice on consistency be delivered? Would it be nutritional, which was an aspect of his preparation he embraced later in his career? Would it be technique-based? Would it be simply how to take the coaching dispensed inside the walls of Gillette Stadium? 

Shelton, who missed two games last season and played in 469 snaps, doesn't have a long-term contract with the Patriots to be able to prove his worth over multiple years the way Wilfork did. And he may not be asked to take on the myriad roles Wilfork was during his time under Belichick. But if Shelton can pick up some advice from Wilfork on how to stay on the field and how to help the Patriots win on first and second downs, that might make him the team's most valuable offseason addition. 

New England finished the season 20th in rush yards allowed per game, and they were 31st in yards per attempt allowed. In the Super Bowl, with run-stuffing defensive tackle Alan Branch a healthy scratch, the Patriots allowed 6.1 yards per carry to the Eagles on their way to 164 yards rushing. 

Shelton is in the final year of his rookie contract and scheduled to make $2.03 million this season. The Patriots may not be willing to pick up his hefty $11.7 million fifth-year option for 2019, but if he can continue his upward trajectory then maybe the Patriots will work to extend him before the end of the year. 

How Wilfork impacts that trajectory, if at all, remains to be seen. But he's certainly not a bad guy for Shelton to have in his corner as the 24-year-old embarks on life with the Patriots.