With the Patriots set to visit the White House on Wednesday, they made a flurry of moves before leaving town on Tuesday, including new contracts for two of their Super Bowl heroes.
The Patriots signed Super Bowl LI star James White to a three-year contract extension through the 2020 season, a league source confirmed to the Globe. They also restructured Danny Amendola’s contract, lowering his pay but ensuring that he will be back for 2017.
The Patriots also signed restricted free agent running back Mike Gillislee, formerly of the Bills, to an offer sheet worth $6.4 million over two years. They re-signed tight end Matt Lengel, an exclusive rights free agent who caught two passes (one touchdown) in six regular-season games last year. And they released guard Tre’ Jackson, a fourth-round pick in 2015 who played in 13 games (with nine starts) as a rookie, but missed all of 2016 with a knee injury.
White, a fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2014, has been the Patriots’ primary pass-catching running back the last two years, catching 100 passes for 961 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season during that time. Terms of his new contract are not yet known.
White was entering the final year of his rookie contract, set to make a league minimum $690,000, but he more than proved his worth in the Super Bowl LI win over the Falcons. White caught a Super Bowl-record 14 passes for 110 yards, scored three touchdowns (one receiving and two rushing, including the winner in overtime), and a 2-point conversion.
The Patriots potentially bolstered their backfield by signing Gillislee to an offer sheet Tuesday, but he isn’t guaranteed to come to New England. Since Gillislee was a restricted free agent, the Bills now have five days to match the Patriots’ offer. If they do, Gillislee must return to the Bills. If they don’t, the Patriots will send Buffalo a fifth-round pick (163rd overall).
If the Gillislee signing goes through, it likely will end the Patriots tenure for running back LeGarrette Blount, who had a career year in 2016 with 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Blount, 30, scored 34 touchdowns in 49 regular-season games with the Patriots after joining the team in 2013. The Patriots also signed running back Rex Burkhead this offseason, and also have White, Dion Lewis, and Brandon Bolden on the roster.
Gillislee, a fifth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2013, is listed at 5 feet 11 inches, 219 pounds and is more of a first-down and goal-line back. After washing out of Miami and a quick stint on Arizona’s practice squad, Gillislee caught on with Buffalo in 2015 and resurrected his career last year. He rushed for 577 yards on 5.7 yards per carry in 2016 while scoring nine total touchdowns (eight on the ground). In an Oct. 30 matchup against the Patriots, Gillislee rushed 12 times for 85 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 41-25 win.
Gillislee could become the third significant player to be swiped from Buffalo by the Patriots. Last year they signed restricted free agent receiver Chris Hogan after the Bills declined to match a three-year, $12 million offer, and in March the Patriots signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a massive five-year, $65 million contract.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are also bringing back one of Brady’s most trusted receivers in Amendola, who had eight catches for 78 yards, a touchdown, and a 2-point conversion in Super Bowl LI.
This will mark the third straight year that Amendola has agreed to a pay cut to remain with the Patriots. Terms of his new contract are not yet known, but he was set to make $6 million in 2017. Last year, Amendola agreed to cut his salary from $5 million to $1.6 million. He originally signed a five-year, $31 million deal with the Patriots in 2013.
Amendola only had 23 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns in the 2016 season, but he is a valuable backup to Julian Edelman and has a good rapport with Tom Brady after four years.
The Patriots don’t have a draft pick until No. 72 in the third round, but they are still doing their homework on all of the top prospects. The Patriots still could trade for a high draft pick — particularly if they decide to deal Malcolm Butler to the Saints — and they like to compile a dossier on every player for when they face the players in the fall, and when they need to make decisions in free agency and trades.
Director of player personnel Nick Caserio said Tuesday that the team’s predraft work with defensive end Kony Ealy and Brandin Cooks came in handy when they decided to trade for them in March.
The Patriots worked out Cooks and spent time with him on Oregon State’s campus in 2014, and brought Ealy to Foxborough for an official visit that year, too.
Caserio noted that the Patriots hosted eight draft prospects Tuesday at Gillette Stadium.
“Really we’re trying to gather as much information as we can on a player, build a composite, because really, you never know when that information is going to become useful for you,” he said.
Guests of honor
The Patriots are set to visit the White House on Wednesday to be honored by President Trump for their victory in Super Bowl LI.
Caserio said the Patriots are “honored and humbled to be extended the invitation,” and said the team respects the decision by any player not to make the trip. A handful of players, including Devin McCourty and Chris Long, have been outspoken about not wanting to visit the White House because of differences they have with Trump.
“For my staff, some guys haven’t been before, so this is a great opportunity to be honored and rewarded and recognized for the accomplishments for what the team did last year,” Caserio said.
Follow Ben Volin on Twitter at @BenVolin.