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LeGarrette Blount, Chris Ivory to test RFA market

Once a rookie sensation himself, LeGarrette Blount was a forgotten man last season with just 41 carries behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hot-shot first-year tailback Doug Martin. Even if head coach Greg Schiano has no plans to expand Blount's role, general manager Mark Dominik has no intentions of losing his insurance policy to another team.

Dominik is giving heavy consideration to stamping Blount with a $2.879 million first-round tender in an effort to scare away potential suitors, reports the Tampa Tribune. Now that Schiano has brought his run-heavy philosophy to town, Dominik doesn't want to risk a repeat of the 2011 season when injuries decimated his backfield.

While that sentiment is easy to understand, it's still a surprise that Dominik might be willing to go overboard to protect a flawed back with issues in pass protection, receiving and ball security. The second-round tender, worth $2.023 million, would be plenty sufficient to ensure Blount's safety in a restricted free-agent market that sees 99 percent of players return to their original teams.

One player who could test that percentage is Chris Ivory of the New Orleans Saints. A more talented and more versatile back than Blount, Ivory expects to receive a free-agent tender as opposed to a long-term contract offer, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Where it gets interesting is the exact tender offer. The Saints' choices are a second-round tender worth $2.023 million or a no-compensation tender at $1.323 million. That $700,000 difference may not seem prohibitive, but it's a significant hurdle for a cap-strapped team with a full-house backfield.

If general manager Mickey Loomis is forced to go the frugal route, Ivory will draw plenty of interest from the Arizona Cardinals and other tailback-needy teams.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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