The Bills declined to match the Patriots' 2-year, $6.4 million contract offer to restricted free agent RB Mike Gillislee. So he's off to New England, while Buffalo receives a 5th-round pick as compensation. Gillislee joins an extremely crowded backfield that includes Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis. Gillislee and Burkhead figure to be battling mostly for early-down, ball-carrying duties. And, most importantly, the goal-line role. Patriots RBs have averaged 16.4 rushing scores over the past 5 seasons, with 18+ in 3 of those. In Buffalo, meanwhile, talented 2nd-year RB Jonathan Williams now has a big opportunity to step in as LeSean McCoy's backup.
Falcons WR Taylor Gabriel on Saturday signed his 2nd-round tender as a restricted free agent. That will keep him in Atlanta for 2017. We'll see if the 2 sides work out any extension beyond that. Gabriel cracked the top 50 among WRs in PPR points per game but ranked just 90th at the position in targets and enjoyed a high TD rate. He'll have a tough time delivering predictable, usable fantasy value without a significant increase in his role.
Washington RB Chris Thompson signed his restricted free agent tender this week. It's a 1-year contract with the team; we wouldn't bet on a longer-term extension. Thompson reached double-digit carries just once last season and surpassed 40 receiving yards only once as well. He's not much of a week-to-week fantasy football option but returns to an open backfield that sports Rob Kelley as its current lead back. We're expecting Washington to add someone in the NFL Draft.
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said QB Cam Newton is “on schedule” to participate in training camp. He played the final 4 games of last season with a partially torn rotator cuff and underwent surgery on his right shoulder on March 30. Per the Panthers, Newton should resume throwing around late June. We’ll track his progress throughout the summer as he tries to rebound from a disappointing 2016.
On the same day they signed Bills RFA RB Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Patriots signed RB James White to a 3-year extension. The Super Bowl star would have been facing unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2017 season but is now under contract through 2020. With White, Dion Lewis and the additions of Rex Burkhead and Gillislee (unless the Bills match), New England's backfield is looking quite crowded. It's a high-value situation, but the committee could prove tough to predict week to week for fantasy football owners. All 4 RBs carry some late-round intrigue -- especially in early best-ball drafting -- though White's new deal might threaten Lewis the most. We'll be watching this situation develop into and through the summer.
The Patriots signed restricted free agent RB Mike Gillislee to a 2-year offer sheet worth $6.4 million. The deal includes $4 million in year 1. Buffalo has 5 days to match the offer, although a shortage of cap space might lead them to pass. In New England, Gillislee would join a loaded backfield that includes Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead. If you're drafting in MFL10s or FFPC Draft Experts leagues right now, we'd recommend avoiding LeGarrette Blount while the Gillislee situation plays out.
As expected, RB Doug Martin reported for the start of Tampa Bay’s offseason workout program on Monday. 2016 was a lost year for the veteran, as hamstring trouble and a PED suspension limited him to 8 games. Note that Martin will serve the final 3 games of his suspension during the 2017 regular season. We’ll see if the Buccaneers select a RB come draft day.
The Titans this week dumped veteran CB Jason McCourty. The 29-year-old (30 in October) spent 8 seasons in Tennessee but lost 16 games to injury over the past 2 years. He's likely to find a new landing spot fairly easily in a league always hungry for solid CBs. We'll see whether that new home keeps McCourty in a full-time role and supports his consistent IDP value.
The Rams hired Wade Phillips this offseason to be their new DC, after switching from Jeff Fisher to Sean McVay in the head job. That move likely startled some IDP owners who wondered how it might affect DT Aaron Donald's role and production. According to ESPN.com, however, Donald expects to do the “same thing. I’m still going to be a 3-technique; still a penetrate, get-up-field type of guy. I got to come here during the offseason and got to sit down and talk with him. I like his game plan and how he’s going to use us, and the position he’s going to put us in to have success.” Phillips is a 3-4 maven, but he's also a smart, career-long defensive coach. He's not likely to apply the Rams' best defensive player in a way that mutes Donald's effectiveness. We'll see what the numbers say come the season, but don't worry too much about Donald's IDP outlook as we move toward fantasy football draft time.
Washington OLB Trent Murphy lost his appeal of a 4-game PED suspension this week, according to the Washington Times. So Murphy will miss the 1st 4 games of the 2017 season. Washington's defense will still have OLB's Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith in the starting lineup.