New England is preparing to poach another restricted free agent from its AFC East rival in Buffalo.
To help manage the cap with the anticipated addition of Gillislee, veteran wide receiver Danny Amendola has agreed on a pay cut, Rapoport added. Amendola is set to earn just over the $1.7 million salary he pocketed last season, a source involved informed Rapoport.
If Buffalo's front office takes the same approach this time around, New England will owe a fifth-round draft pick as compensation. Back in early March, the Bills assigned an original-round tender worth $1.797 million to Gillislee, the No. 164 overall pick in the 2012 draft. General manager Doug Whaley has five days to match the Patriots' offer.
All-Pro LeSean McCoy is already the league's highest-paid starting tailback. Would the Bills be willing to over-invest at the position by shelling out more than $4 million this season for a pure backup? The first indication out of Buffalo, per the Boston Herald, is that the Billsdon't believe they will match the offer.
It's worth noting that last year's fifth-round pick, Jonathan Williams, was widely hailed as a sleeper in the 2016 running-back class.
An ultra-efficient change of pace to McCoy, Gillislee has flashed a mix of power and speed en route to a gaudy average of 5.7 yards on 148 carries over the past two years.
The 26-year-old former Florida star finished No. 1 among all NFL backs in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric last season. Perhaps not coincidentally, Burkhead ranked No. 2 in limited action with Cincinnati.
Is Gillislee a viable candidate to replace free-agent power back LeGarrette Blount in short-yardage and goal-line situations? On third or fourth down with six or fewer yards to go, Gillislee has converted 14 of 17 career opportunities into first downs or touchdowns, per statistical analyst Scott Barrett. That's the highest rate in the league over the past four years.