The Buffalo Bills announced Monday they opted not to match the New England Patriots' offer sheet to restricted free agent Mike Gillislee, which will pay the running back $6.4 million over the next two years.
The Bills noted they have acquired the Patriots' fifth-round draft choice as a result. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network previously passed along the details of the Pats' offer sheet.
Gillislee was not only among the best backup running backs in the NFL last season, but he was also one of the league's most productive players at the position on a per-carry basis.
The 26-year-old Florida native rushed for 577 yards and eight touchdowns on 101 carries while working behind Bills starter LeSean McCoy. More impressively, his 5.7 yards per attempt led the NFL among qualified rushers.
In addition, Nick Veronica of the Buffalo News pointed out the 2013 fifth-round pick of the Miami Dolphins was terrific in short-yardage situations:
The most impressive facet of Gillislee's game is identifying and attacking a rushing lane. He's showcased a nice burst once he receives the handoff that allows him to regularly get to the second level.
Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar is bullish on the back's long-term outlook:
Gillislee should eventually get the opportunity to become a team's leading rusher if he continues to perform like he did throughout 2016.
He told Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News back in November that he enjoyed playing in Buffalo.
"I love Buffalo," Gillislee said. "I love the people. The coaches, the whole staff down to the people in the cafeteria, everybody just makes it feel like home here. I'm far away from Florida, but it feels like home."
Alas, the Bills coaching staff has changed since he made those remarks, with Sean McDermott taking over for Rex Ryan. The front office also moved to add additional backfield depth by signing Mike Tolbert and Patrick DiMarco alongside likely new backup Jonathan Williams.
Landing Gillislee is another sly coup by the Patriots, who heisted wide receiver Chris Hogan from the Bills under similar circumstances one year ago. Their superior roster-building ability is one of many reasons they've won five Super Bowl titles since Buffalo last made the playoffs.
New England has several other rushers on the roster right now, led by Dion Lewis and James White. It's unlikely anybody will receive a disproportionate bulk of the carries, but Gillislee could end up handling a lot of early-down work as part of the committee approach.