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' Josh McDaniels raises notable strategy concern of games without fans

Patriots' Josh McDaniels raises notable strategy concern of games without fans

Bill Belichick isn't the only New England Patriots coach who leaves no stone unturned.

Among the many adjustments the Patriots will have to make this season, they may have to play games in empty stadiums, as the continued spread of COVID-19 could prevent fans from attending games in 2020.

New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was asked Friday how a fan-less atmosphere may change how he runs the offense, and he gave a pretty revealing answer.

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"If it's quieter, I think there's some things you probably have to protect," McDaniels told reporters in a video conference. "You can't change your language. It's like, if we know English, we can't teach them Spanish before Week 1.

"I think you probably will self-scout yourself a little bit more with the television copy (of the game film), because they have the mics all over the place. So, you have to be careful (about) how much of what you're saying is easily detectable. I think it's more about protecting yourself and not giving everything away week after week."

McDaniels makes a good point: A quiet stadium without fans means teams could eavesdrop on opposing offensive coordinators to listen to their play calls, either during the game or while watching the television replay on film.

Under normal circumstances, offensive coordinators usually cover their mouths with their play sheets to prevent teams from reading their lips, but that precaution might not be enough if an in-stadium microphone picks up what they're saying anyway.

It's unclear how McDaniels and other coordinators will guard themselves against this potential subterfuge, but it's no surprise that Bill Belichick's longtime coordinator is considering all scenarios entering an unprecedented season.

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

The New England Patriots have added another cornerback to their depth chart.

On Sunday, they announced they've acquired Michael Jackson from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick.

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Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (158th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys out of Miami (FL). He started his rookie season on Dallas' practice squad before being signed by Detroit.

The 23-year-old played in only one game last season for the Lions.

Jackson joins a Patriots cornerback group that currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, D'Angelo Ross, Justin Bethel and Myles Bryant.

UPDATE (6 p.m. ET): The Patriots are sending a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to Detroit in exchange for Jackson, per the NFL's transaction wire.