New England is preparing to poach another restricted free agent from its AFC East rival in Buffalo.

The Patriots extended a two-year, $6.4 million offer sheet to Bills running back Mike Gillislee, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the situation. The offer includes $4 million in the first year.


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.

The potential Gillislee heist comes 13 months after the Pats signed wideout Chris Hogan to a three-year, $12 million offer sheet which the Bills ultimately declined to match.

Hogan ended up tying DeSean Jackson for the league lead in yards per reception (17.9) and went on to shatter the franchise’s postseason single-game record for receiving yards in the AFC Championship Game.

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 Bills don’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.

Gillislee is an intriguing target for a Patriots team already boasting a backfield of specialists in Super Bowl hero James White, elusive Dion Lewis and versatile Rex Burkhead.

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.

If the Bills opt against matching Gillislee’s offer, Adrian Peterson can scratch New England off his list of potential landing spots. It also spells doom for Blount’s chances of resurfacing with the Patriots under a more lucrative contract.

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