Patriots

Patriots

The Patriots are loaded at running back. They've let LeGarrette Blount linger in free agency, but they've added both Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee this offseason to a stable that already included James White and Dion Lewis.

So why would they host Christine Michael on a visit? That's exactly what they did on Tuesday, according to ESPN's Field Yates

Michael has bounced around the league since he was drafted in the second round by the Seahawks in 2013. He was traded to the Cowboys in 2015, joined the Redskins practice squad and returned to the Seahawks all in the same season. Released last season, the Packers claimed Michael on waivers, and he signed a one-year deal with Green Bay in March. 

After the Packers drafted a trio of backs, Michael was released. And now the Patriots have kicked the tired on him. (Should he sign with New England, he won't count toward the compensatory-pick formula, which we covered earlier today.)

Michael measures in at 5-foot-10, 220 pounds and entered the league as perhaps the best athlete at his position in the 2013 draft class. He clocked a 6.69-second three-cone drill, a 4.02-second short shuttle, jumped 125 inches in the broad jump and 43 inches in the vertical in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine that year. 

For his career, he averages 4.3 yards per attempt and he's caught 26 passes on 37 targets. He also has experience returning kicks. 

 

Because the Patriots are so deep at the running back position, Michael's visit could be little more than a fact-finding mission for Bill Belichick and his staff. They are continuously bringing free agents in to update their information should they run into a situation where they find themselves in need. 

If the Patriots do end up striking a deal with Michael, he'd provide more competition at a spot where there will already be a battle for playing time. Right now, in addition to the quartet mentioned above, that position also includes second-year sub back DJ Foster and core special-teamer Brandon Bolden.

The investment made by the Patriots in running backs this offseason has been an interesting one to track. In an age when the passing game is king, when sub packages are being deployed more and more frequently, and when that position has been widely de-valued, the Patriots have stockpiled versatile backs who can stress defenses as both runners and receivers.

Perhaps Belichick, the coach who built a dynasty by capitalizing on market inefficiencies, has spotted another.