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Patriots issue rarely used tender on LeGarrette Blount

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The New England Patriots exercised a seldom-used tender on running back LeGarrette Blount.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport broke down the move Wednesday on Up To The Minute Live:

"By midnight last night, teams had the opportunity to extend tenders to their unrestricted free agents who had not yet signed," Rapoport said. "So basically what this is is teams release all of their unrestricted free agents, and say, 'All right, you go sign with another team, we will not get a compensatory pick anymore and also we don't have your rights.' The Patriots had such a list. Michael Floyd, who ended up signing with the Vikings, he was on it, as was Gregg Scruggs. LeGarrette Blount was not on it and I wondered why this morning. The reason why was the Patriots essentially retained his rights, trying to get themselves something if he signs with another team. It's a tough, ruthless business decision, but it is what the Patriots have done."

Pro Football Talk first reported the development.

Per the little-used tender, Blount can still negotiate with other teams until July 22. If the running back does not sign by July 22, he reverts to the Patriots and can only sign in New England unless he sits out through Week 10. Rapoport reported Blount would earn $1.1 million on the tender.

The New York Giants and Detroit Lions have been reported as possible destinations for Blount the past several weeks.

The Patriots used the tender as a callous business decision that would allow Blount to remain part of New England's compensatory picks formulation. Other unrestricted free agents that sign after May 9, are not part of the equation -- for example, Floyd signing on Wednesday does not count in the comp pick formula for the Pats or against the Vikings.

Blount led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016, earning 1,161 yards on 299 carries.

The Patriots signed Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee this offseason to join a bloated backfield with Dion Lewis and James White. The moves seemed to signal an end for Blount in New England.

This week's decision by coach Bill Belichick is a cold-blooded calculation that could weaken Blount's market. He'll either remain with New England on the cheap or the Pats will get compensation if he signs with another team before July 22.

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