The New England Patriots snatched running back Mike Gillislee from their division rival Buﬀalo Bills this oﬀseason. Gillislee has bounced around to now his third AFC East team. Here he could have very well found himself a long-term home. New England loves to bring in talent at running back before their big payday on team friendly deals. From there, they build them up and make them stars until they ﬁnd new homes.
The same could go for Gillislee.
His career started as ﬁfth round pick for the Miami Dolphins back in 2013 and signed a 4-year deal. They released him in 2015. Then the Arizona Cardinals picked him up as a member of their practice squad and cut again. Gillislee ﬁnally found a home in Buﬀalo when their backup running backs seemed to thin out. In 2016, he had a much larger role with the team rushing for 577 yards on 101 attempts for an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Even with limited success, his eight touchdowns as a backup is nothing to glance over. Gillislee, if used correctly, could ﬁll a much-needed void at running back.
The Bills did all they could to bring him back into the fold but chose not to match the oﬀer from the New England Patriots after putting an original 5th round tender on him. Now he will have the opportunity to play with a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady. In addition, he will play for a coach who is a wizard at getting the most out of his talented players in Bill Belichick. The Patriots have had no shortage of turning back ups into starters and Gillislee might be getting his name called out signiﬁcantly on game day.
Since opponents fear Brady, they would rather let the run game be their downfall. The New England Patriots might be a pass ﬁrst team, but put way less pressure on running backs to succeed. If Mike Gillislee can show the same burst, he had in Buﬀalo and knack for ﬁnding the end zone he could be the team’s leading rusher this season. He will also need to get more work in the passing game. For his career, he has only totaled 79 receiving yards and one touchdown. On a team that likes to spread the ball out, he better ﬁnd a way to factor into the oﬀense. The job is his to lose if he can make the best of every opportunity. However, if not he could be the fourth best running back in that division. Each of their division rivals has a running back that changes the way the oﬀense progresses. New England cannot be one-dimensional and expect the same results. Look for Mike Gillislee to step up in a big way.
Editor’s Note: This article can also be seen in our upcoming NFL Preview Edition.