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.
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.