Yesterday was decision day in the NFL on the use of the “May 9 tender” for all remaining unrestricted free agents. For those unfamiliar with this tender, which was commonly known as the June 1 tender, basically it is an offer that can be extended to a veteran free agent who has yet to sign a contract with a new team. When the offer is made the team maintains some level of control of the free agent as well as rights to a compensatory draft or blocking someone from gaining a comp pick by waiting to sign a free agent.
Generally this date is a formality because no team extends a tender to a free agent. The reason for this is that the offer is 110% of his prior years salary which for most veterans worth keeping is pretty high. So not surprisingly yesterday was filled with some posts about how the change in comp pick rules would open free agency up to players again but I questioned that as it pertained to Blount.
Seeing a lot about Blount and the comp pick system. I know nobody uses the tender but I could see the #patriots doing so
— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) May 9, 2017
Blount was a really unique case for this tender. First of all Blount was dirt cheap last season on a contract worth $1 million in base value plus incentives, so his new contract would be worth under $1.1M in base value. Blount was highly effective rushing for nearly 1,200 yards and leading the league with 18 touchdowns so he was worth the salary. He plays a devalued position so its possible he would actually accept the tender down the line. Finally the Patriots are the most out of the box thinkers in the NFL which made them a prime candidate to use this.
So what happens now? Not much. Blount is still a free agent and free to sign anywhere just like yesterday. The only thing now is if a team was expecting to keep a comp pick by holding off on signing Blount the Patriots blocked that from happening. The Patriots should have to account for Blount on their salary cap starting today. I’m not sure of the final number (it should be $1.096M in base value plus incentives but I’m not sure what that LTBE amount is), but he should be there and will count against the 90 man limit. If he signs elsewhere he will come off the Patriots cap.
The next important date to watch is the start of training camp which is usually in late July. If Blount is still a free agent he will be blocked from negotiating with another team as the Patriots control his rights from that point forward. So if a team needed help following an injury they would have to work out a trade with New England, not just call up Blount.
Blount’s free agent status has been one of the bigger question marks around the NFL, because of how productive he was, but in general the running back market is depressed and being 31 years old doesn’t help matters any. Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch, both much higher regarded players than Blount, signed for just a few million a year.
Blount is also negatively impacted by the “Patriot way”. In the past many teams got burned signing productive players from New England only to find that once out of the Patriot system their productivity fell. This probably applies even more so for Blount, who people forget was a free agency failure just a few years ago.
Blount revitalized his career following a trade from Tampa to New England in 2013. Blount ran for nearly 800 yards and had seven scores for the Patriots that year. In free agency the Steelers jumped in and signed Blount to a two year deal worth close to $4 million. Blount didnt make it out of the first season rushing for just 266 yards in 11 games before he was cut, leaving the Steelers with a $1.85M bill, Blount went back to the Patriots and had a huge game in the playoffs rushing for 148 yards and 3 scores. So there has always been a huge buyer beware tag with him.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.