Patriots set to take another chunk out of Bills with Gillislee offer sheet

Patriots set to take another chunk out of Bills with Gillislee offer sheet

FOXBORO -- It's as if the Bills were asking for it. By placing the original-round tender on restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee, it made their young hard-charging back very affordable.

And the Patriots appear all too happy to take advantage. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Gillislee has been extended an offer sheet worth $6.4 million that will pay him $4 million in the first year.

Sound familiar? Bill Belichick and his staff did the same thing to another promising restricted free agent out of Buffalo last season when Chris Hogan was offered a three-year, $12 million deal with a first-year cap charge of $5.5 million. That amount in the first year of the deal made it difficult for the Bills to match and retain Hogan.

They didn't.

To make matters worse for them, because Hogan had only been given the low tender offer ($1.6 million at the time), Buffalo was not provided with any compensation when he landed in New England. He went on to assert himself as the most consistent deep threat in one of the best offenses in the AFC, averaging 17.9 yards per catch.

At least this time around, should the Bills opt not to match the Patriots offer to Gillislee, they'll receive a fifth-round pick for losing the 2013 fifth-rounder. 

That may serve as little consolation for the Bills, who lost free-agent corner Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots, who are trying to establish a new identity under head coach Sean McDermott, who already have a plethora of needs and would be adding another.

Having to play Gillislee twice for the next two years won't make his loss sting any less, either. 

For the second time in two years, the Patriots have valued Bills restricted free agents more highly than the Bills have. Say this for Bills general manager Doug Whaley: At least he's consistent.

Here are a few more takeaways from today's news linking Gillislee and the Patriots . . . 

* Gillislee would appear to have the best shot at claiming the "big back" role for the Patriots. Among all running backs with at least 70 carries last season, the 26-year-old (5-foot-11, 219 pounds) averaged the fifth-most yards after contact per attempt (3.3). Gillislee has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but that's not his bread and butter. He saw 11 targets in the passing game last season and caught nine for 50 yards and a touchdown.

* This could mean the end of the LeGarrette Blount era in Foxboro. If the Patriots end up with Gillislee, that would give them a multitude of backs who project as contributors, including Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead, who signed a one-year deal for $3.15 million this offseason. They would also have DJ Foster and Brandon Bolden on the depth chart. Gillislee's addition wouldn't necessarily preclude the Patriots from bringing Blount back, but it's a crowded picture at that position, and their styles have some overlap.

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.