FOXBORO -- Mike Gillislee was at the point where he wasn't sure he would see any offer sheets as a restricted free agent.
It was late in the offseason. The Bills had placed the original-round tender on him, meaning the price of signing him was a fifth-round pick plus the value of the offer. And all was quiet. Gillislee was working out with his Bills teammates, assuming he'd be back in Buffalo for 2017.
Then the Patriots called. It was the first he'd ever heard of their interest in him. Even when he was coming out of the University of Florida in 2013, he said he hadn't had any contact with the Patriots leading up to that year's draft.
"None at all," Gillislee said on Tuesday. "The first time I ever heard is when my agent called and told me I had a visit."
A few days later, Gillislee had an offer sheet in hand that would pay him over $6 million in two years. The Bills had almost a week to determine whether or not they would match New England's offer, and just before the deadline Gillislee found out that they would not.
Either way he would be getting the same amount of money. All that was to be determined was where he would be making it.
What was he hoping for during that drawn out waiting period?
"The best," he said, "and I ended up with the best being here to a winning squad -- no offense against Buffalo -- just to come here and continue helping this team win games."
Gillislee hasn't been in the area long, but he has a few familiar faces to lean on in former Bills Chris Hogan and Stephon Gilmore, and the culture of the work environment feels familiar.
"It reminds me a lot of when I was playing up under Urban Meyer," he said. "Just sticking to that plan to win and paying attention to all the small details and executing. Every day you gotta come to work. Every day you gotta have 100 percent focus on your responsibilities and everything your coach needs. Every day you gotta come in locked in. Every day."
It's unclear exactly how Gillislee will fit into the running back group with the Patriots -- a group that also features Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, James White, Brandon Bolden and DJ Foster -- but he did acknowledge that he appreciated the running style put on display by LeGarrette Blount during Blount's tenure in New England.
"LeGarrette Blount, he's always been one of my favorite running backs," Gillislee said. "His physicality and what he brings to the table is what I bring to the table. But I wouldn't compare myself to him. Just here to better this football team and continue to win games."