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Pats sign Super Bowl hero James White to extension

If you suspected the Patriots' recent backfield machinations cast doubt on the future of Super Bowl LI hero James White, think again.

New England has agreed to terms with White on a three-year contract extension, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source involved in the deal. The contract is worth $12 million and includes $4.69 million guaranteed, Rapoport added.

If not for Tom Brady's theatrics in directing a historic comeback, White would have captured Super Bowl MVP honors after totaling 139 yards and three scores on 20 touches versus the Falcons.

Far from a one-hit wonder, White was one of the NFL's most improved players in 2016. Displacing Dion Lewis as Brady's security blanket out of the backfield, the 2014 fourth-round draft pick finished first in receiving touchdowns (five) and third in receptions (60) and receiving yards (551) among NFL running backs.

With the addition of versatileRex Burkhead and the potential signing of power/speed prospect Mike Gillislee, the Patriots backfield will feature a panoply of skill sets to suit each game situation depending on score and down-and-distance.

Prior to White's extension, all three primary tailbacks under contract were due to reach free agency in 2018.

Although Lewis returned from reconstructive knee surgery in November, he was utilized primarily as a runner while White concentrated on receiving duties. White figures to retain that pass-catching role this season, with Lewis, Burkhead and perhaps Gillislee splitting carries as dictated by their own unique strengths and weaknesses.

Don't let the Patriots' committee of unheralded running-back specialists fool you. This could be one of the league's most efficient backfields in 2017.

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