What Does LeGarrette Blount Bring to the New England Patriots?
On Saturday, the New England Patriots traded running back Jeff Demps and a seventh-round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for talented but troubled running back LeGarrette Blount (per Pro Football Talk).
Demps spent the 2012 season on injured reserve and recently stated his desire to be a two-sport star. When explaining what he'd say to head coach Bill Belichick when bringing up his desire to do both track and football, Demps said (via Sports Talk Florida):
Listen coach, I want to do both, but in order for me to get to where I want to be on the track and field side, it’ll take a full year of preparation. And after the season, if you guys are willing to let me come back—you know, probably midseason—and work out and train and get ready for the season, I’ll be able to do that. If not, then I guess I’ll just focus on running.
The Patriots, evidently, were not comfortable with the time share and shipped him off to Tampa Bay for a talented back. What they got in return was a player who is known more for an incident that nearly ruined his chances at the NFL than he is known for his talents on the football field. That being said, Blount is talented in his role.
At 6'0" and 241 pounds, his strength is his size and toughness. He is hard to bring down with arm tackles.
Blount provides another solid between-the-tackles back in the stable, and he could find himself stealing some goal-line touches from Stevan Ridley. Although Ridley has been durable in his career, running backs wear down quickly and are always prone to injury simply due to the number of hits they take.
He is similar to Brandon Bolden in skill set, and the two will likely be in a competition for the backup role behind Ridley.
Blount doesn't have game-breaking speed that Demps does, and his burst is questionable as well. But weaknesses aside, he has already been a productive back in the NFL, with 1,007 yards on 201 carries (5.01 YPA) and six touchdowns as a rookie.
His production has dipped over the past two years, with 225 carries for 932 yards and seven touchdowns in that time. He had just 41 carries in 2012, when he was relegated to a backup role, as Buccaneers running back Doug Martin ran wild all over the NFL.
The question isn't whether Blount can return to that productivity—he will not be a feature back for the Patriots—the question is what the team do with him on passing downs. He has caught just 21 passes in his three-year career. For the price of a seventh-round pick, as well as a part-time football player, the Patriots were willing to overlook his one-dimensional game.
The Patriots got rid of one headache with Demps' indecisiveness, but will Blount's work habits provide a new headache? Time will tell, but the value of the trade looks good for the Patriots.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from ProFootballFocus.com, and all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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