The busy Tuesday for the Patriots continued into the night.

James White reportedly is now signed through 2020. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

James White reportedly is now signed through 2020. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

The busy Tuesday for the Patriots continued into the night.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Patriots have signed running back James White to a three-year contract extension. He was scheduled to be a free agent after this season, so the Patriots have their third-down back for several more years.

White will now be a free agent after the 2020 season.

He is most known for his game-winning overtime touchdown in Super Bowl LI, but he also had a great game before that short run. He had 14 catches for 110 yards and also six carries for 29 yards.

Going into the year, there was no running back signed beyond this season. Now, if the Patriots land Mike Gillespee, they will have Gillespee and White for 2018 to go along with Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis in 2017.

It’s also worth noting with the contract extension, White could potentially one day challenge Kevin Faulk for the best third-down back in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Tuesday turned into a pretty busy day for the Patriots.

The Patriots waived Tre' Jackson on Tuesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots waived Tre’ Jackson on Tuesday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tuesday turned into a pretty busy day for the Patriots.

Not only did director of player personnel Nick Caserio give his pre-draft press conference and Rex Burkhead address the media for the first time since joining the club, but the Patriots made a few minor transactions, confirmed by the NFL transaction wire.

— The Patriots released guard Tre’ Jackson. He didn’t play at all last year due to injury and Ted Karras impressed in his rookie season, likely jumping him on the depth chart.

— Tight end Matt Lengel signed his exclusive rights tender with the team meaning he will officially be back in 2017.

— Malcolm Butler signed his first-round tender for $3.91 million, meaning if he doesn’t get traded he will be back in 2017.

— New England officially put in offer sheet on Bills running back Mike Gillislee. Buffalo has until Monday to match the deal.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Things are starting to come into focus for Malcolm Butler.

Malcolm Butler reportedly has signed his first-round tender with the Patriots. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Malcolm Butler reportedly has signed his first-round tender with the Patriots. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

Things are starting to come into focus for Malcolm Butler.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Butler has signed his first-round tender with the Patriots worth $3.91 million. The report adds a trade is still on the table, which could only happen once he signed his tender.

Now that the tender has been signed, the Patriots can negotiate a potential trade with other teams. Per the CBA, they could not do this until he had signed the tender. This is key because if he were to be traded, it would likely come before the draft so 2017 picks could be dealt to New England.

The most likely destination is New Orleans considering Butler already went for a visit last month. The cornerback is not happy with making $3.91 million and wants to get paid like an unrestricted free agent. A team that trades for him would need to guarantee him a long-term deal, and also give the Patriots compensation in return.

Butler reportedly was upset with the Patriots after they signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million contract.

If Butler is not traded, he would play for the Patriots in 2017 for $3.91 million and then become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Rex Burkhead is looking forward to joining the Patriots. (WEEI.com)

Rex Burkhead is looking forward to joining the Patriots. (WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Free agent running back Rex Burkhead likely had a few teams interested in his services, but in the end he chose the Patriots.

Other teams likely would have given the Nebraska product a better chance to play more, but the former Bengals back chose New England not only because of the winning culture, but by the way it uses its running backs in a number of different ways.

“It was very intriguing, of course, how they use [their running backs],” Burkhead said at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. “Split them out, use them in the backfield, just the multi-dimensional ways that they use them. What coach [Josh] McDaniels does with offensive schemes, it’s great, and I felt like it was a fit for me.”

Burkhead can be a typical back and run between the tackles, play special teams, and even line up in the slot.

“I grew up in Texas — we had 7-on-7s in the summers all the time,” he said. “We had to play receiver. You can’t hand the ball of there. Got comfortable with that. Just trying to be an all-purpose back. Being able to split out, catch passes out there is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

The Patriots reportedly put an offer sheet in on Mike Gillislee on Tuesday, which would finalize the Patriots’ backfield.

Gillslee would be the power back, while Dion Lewis and James White would have key roles as well. Burkhead seems likely to play a lot on special teams, but also is a great insurance policy for a player like Lewis, who is a risk given his injury history.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Nick Caserio said the Patriots have 50-75 players on their draft board this year. (WEEI.com)

Nick Caserio said the Patriots have 50-75 players on their draft board this year. (WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Next week close to 300 players will be selected in the NFL draft, but the Patriots are only considering about 25 percent of that number.

Speaking at his pre-draft press conference Tuesday at Gillette Stadium, director of player personnel Nick Caserio acknowledged the Patriots only have 50-75 players on their board, which is much lower than the average team.

For a comparison, the Ravens have said they have 150 players on their board.

“I would say it varies year-to-year, but I would say our draft board is smaller than most,” Caserio said. “We are trying to find players that we feel comfortable with on all levels that we would actually draft. Not that are going to get drafted. Three-hundred players or whatever it is are going to get drafted. It’s players that we would draft, that we would actually feel comfortable with in our program in some capacity.”

It is worth noting that number doesn’t include players the team expects to go undrafted, which the Patriots generally take full advantage of.

“The Jonathan Joneses, the Brandon Boldens, the David Andrewses, who, could they have been drafted? Sure. Absolutely,” Caserio said. “They didn’t get drafted for whatever reason, but that’s going to be another pool of players that come into our program, and some have had some more success than others.

“You have a couple of different groups. Here’s the draft group. Here’s the undrafted group. We spend a lot of time on the players that we maybe think are not going to get drafted. They could get drafted, but if they don’t get drafted, we definitely want to work with that player because of X, Y and Z. We try to identify those. Andrews definitely fell into that category. Brandon Bolden was another player who fell into that cat. Jonathan Jones fell into that category. Drafted players, those are important. Undrafted players, they’re equally important.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — The biggest storylines with the Patriots as the NFL draft approaches are not who will they take, but rather what will happen to Jimmy Garoppolo and Malcolm Butler.

There could be more Jimmy Garoppolo rumors between now and the draft. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

There could be more Jimmy Garoppolo rumors between now and the draft. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The biggest storylines with the Patriots as the NFL draft approaches are not who will they take, but rather what will happen to Jimmy Garoppolo and Malcolm Butler.

Garoppolo is a highly-sought after quarterback, but it appears the Patriots want to hold on to him. Still, offers could come in leading up to and on draft day as teams are desperate for good quarterbacks.

Butler remains a restricted free agent who hasn’t signed his tender. The deadline for teams to place an offer sheet on players is Friday, so with that appearing unlikely to happen for Butler, it seems he has no choice but to sign his tender.

Once he does that, the Patriots can discuss trades with other teams. This could heat up around the draft, as teams could want Butler over taking a chance on a rookie cornerback.

Speaking at his pre-draft press conference at Gillette Stadium Tuesday, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was asked if Garoppolo strictly isn’t for sale.

“Anything that we do, we’re always going to do what we think is in the best interest of our football team, and that’s how we approach it,” Caserio said. “That’s not going to change. Whatever you think is best for our team for 2017, for that season, then that’s what we’ll do. However that manifests itself, not exactly sure, but that’s where the focus is, is trying to put together the best team possible for the 2017 season. However that comes about, then we’ll take it as it comes.”

Caserio was also asked about Butler, and if the Saints (who Butler visited) proposed a trade, how would the Patriots approach it?

“Our focus and goal is to put together the best team possible,” Caserio said. “However we’re going to improve our team, whatever players we think are going to help our team for the 2017 season, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

The Patriots also do not have a selection until the third round, No. 72 overall in the draft. So are they in a position to try and move up? It doesn’t appear that way.

“I don’t anticipate that many transactions here between now and next Thursday or Friday,” Caserio said. “Could that change? Look, it’s the National Football League. Things can change in a heartbeat. Our focus is on getting ready for the draft and putting together the best team possible.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable