The New England Patriots are in position to poach a valuable backup away from their AFC East rival Buffalo Bills for a second consecutive offseason.
The Bills stand to lose running back Mike Gillislee a year after failing to match the Patriots' offer to sign receiver Chris Hogan.
A person with direct knowledge of the move confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that Gillislee signed New England's two-year, $6.4 million offer sheet. The contract would pay the restricted free agent $4 million this season, according to the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Patriots have not announced the move. NFL.com first reported the signing.
The news comes on a busy day for the Patriots. Sources tell the Boston Herald wide receiver Danny Amendola agreed to restructure his contract for the third straight year to allow the team to keep him. And ESPN is reporting that restricted free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler has signed his $3.91 million restricted free agent tender, though he could still be traded to another team.
The Bills now have until early next week to match the offer to Gillislee or settle for acquiring New England's fifth-round draft pick as compensation. Buffalo has about $10 million in space left under the salary cap, including the $1.8 million offer the team made to retain Gillislee's rights last month.
He's a third-year player who has contributed to Buffalo leading the NFL in rushing in each of the past two years. Gillislee had 577 yards rushing and scored nine touchdowns, including one receiving, as LeSean McCoy's primary backup last season.
The Bills lack experienced depth behind Gillislee, though veteran fullback Mike Tolbert could fill that role. Buffalo signed Tolbert and fullback Patrick DiMarco in free agency last month.
The Super Bowl champion Patriots have a need at running back with incumbent LeGarrette Blount unsigned.
New England's addition of Hogan paid off immediately last season . The fifth-year player finished third on the team with 680 yards receiving and scored four times in 15 regular-season games. Hogan had 332 yards receiving and two scores in three playoff games, and set the Patriots' franchise postseason record with nine catches for 180 yards in a 36-17 win over Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game.
Last month, Buffalo retained offensive lineman Ryan Groy by matching the offer sheet he signed with the Los Angeles Rams.