Patriots reportedly host two AFC East RFA running backs for visits


As LeGarrette Blount waits to see what his future will hold, the Patriots continue to research contingency plans at running back. 

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Bills restricted free agent back Mike Gillislee visited Gillette Stadium recently. Per ESPN's Field Yates, Dolphins restricted free agent Damien Williams also had a visit scheduled with the Patriots. 

Both players have been tendered at the lowest level, meaning their teams would have the right of first refusal should they accept offer sheets elsewhere. If Gillislee and Williams play 2017 on their tenders, they would receive $1.797 million. 

The Patriots know both players well from their divisional matchups over the course of the last few seasons, and both seem to possess the kind of versatility that Bill Belichick's coaching staff often covets. 

Gillislee, a fifth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2013, had his best season in 2016. He rushed for 577 yards and eight scores on 101 carries -- an average of nearly six yards per attempt. He also caught nine passes for 50 yards and a score. In his two games against the Patriots, the 5-foot-11, 219-pounder ran for a total of 115 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts. 

Williams, who was undrafted in 2014, ran 35 times for 115 yards and three scores last season. A legitimate pass-catching threat out of the backfield, he also made 23 receptions for 249 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. In the regular-season finale against the Patriots, the 5-11, 228-pounder caught three passes for 38 yards.

The Patriots have numbers at the running back position, but three of the backs who are projected to be among their biggest contributors are headed into contract years: Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis and James White. DJ Foster and Brandon Bolden round out the team's running-back depth chart at the moment.

Blount, meanwhile, was made an offer by the Patriots early in free agency, per our Mike Giardi, but has not been moved to sign.

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