USA TODAY Sports’ Lindsay H. Jones says that even though the Cowboys had a surprisingly impressive 2016 season, there’s plenty of tough competition in the NFC East that could steal the division title in 2017.
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The last time LeGarrette Blount left the New England Patriots’ nest, he got arrested during training camp, walked off the field before a game was over and ended up getting cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014.
It won’t necessarily end that way with the Philadelphia Eagles, who signed Blount on Wednesday to a one-year contract that NFL Media reported is worth up to $2.8 million. But there are reasons a guy who led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns last season sat on the market this long, and it’s worth wondering if he’ll regret leaving the Bill Belichick umbrella again.
Go through Blount’s history everywhere else. He was suspended in 2009 at the University of Oregon for a punching a Boise State player. He went undrafted and was cut by the Tennessee Titans as a rookie. He was claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who eventually jettisoned him to New England in 2013. After that season, Blount signed a two-year deal with the Steelers. Then came the arrest (a marijuana charge was dropped after he completed community service), the walk-off, the release and a return to the Patriots – whom he helped win two Super Bowls.
For whatever reason, Blount didn’t sign the Patriots’ offer early this offseason and they moved on by signing Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee. He opted to head to Philly instead of accepting New England’s final tender. The full details of Blount’s contract with the Eagles will come later, but it seems obvious his market wasn’t as lucrative elsewhere as he’d expected (a lesson many running backs found out this offseason).
Touchdowns aside, Blount needed a career-high 299 carries to run for 1,161 yards last season. He benefited from the Patriots’ uncanny ability to accentuate players’ strengths and hide their weaknesses. And he’s not getting any younger.
As one NFL executive put it recently: “That doesn’t really get you fired up as a GM when it’s (3.9) yards per carry and the guy’s 31 years old” in December.
The Eagles will hope they get a power running and short-yardage threat they lacked last season behind promising young quarterback Carson Wentz. Blount’s track record suggests they might be disappointed.
Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero.
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