Patriots agree to multiyear deal with RB Rex Burkhead
The Patriots agreed to terms on a multiyear contract with running back Rex Burkhead on Wednesday, according to a league source. Burkhead collected more than 500 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns in 2017.
Financial terms of the deal are unknown.
Burkhead proved to be a quick study in the Patriots offense and almost certainly would have put up bigger numbers had he not been derailed by an early rib injury and a late-season knee ailment.
The 5-foot-10-inch, 210-pound Burkhead rushed 64 times for 264 yards — a healthy 4.1-yard average — and scored 5 touchdowns. He has a quick first step and good instincts and always gives maximum effort. He scored several times last season on second- and third-effort runs.
Burkhead also earned Tom Brady’s trust as a receiver, catching 30 passes for 254 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also played on special teams, including one kickoff return for 17 yards.
With Dion Lewis signing with the Titans, it’s a safe bet Burkhead’s role will increase this season.
“Rex does a lot of things for our team,’’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said in November. “He certainly plays a lot of different roles offensively. I know he plays and contributes in the kicking game. Rex — he’s got a skill set that allows him to do a lot of different things, whether that’s run the ball, pick up the blitz, catch the ball out of the backfield, extend from the formation and catch the ball and be productive . . . [He is] a very unselfish, productive player for us in a lot of different ways.’’
The Patriots now have Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee, and Brandon Bolden under contract.
The team likely will add to this corps via the draft — which is considered deep — or with a rookie free agent or two.
McCarron rumor not true
Reports linking free agent quarterback A.J. McCarron to the Patriots are completely false.
According to a league source, the team never extended a contract offer to the 27-year-old McCarron, who spent the last four seasons backing up Andy Dalton in Cincinnati.
McCarron instead agreed to a two-year deal with the Bills early Wednesday night.
The former Alabama star has started just three games in his career and was nearly sent to the Browns at last season’s trade deadline but the paperwork wasn’t filed to the league office in time.
Patriots guards Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney received nice little bonuses Wednesday, with the pair being the team’s top earners in the NFL’s performance-based pay system, which rewards players whose playing time far exceeds their salaries.
Mason, a third-year right guard who played 99.7 percent of the snaps, took home an additional $314,837 to rank 14th overall in the league. Thuney, a second-year left guard who played 99.6 percent of the snaps, came in at No. 21 with an extra $296,620.
Mason and Thuney also earned extra money through the league’s “veteran performance based pay” system. Mason received $84,801 while Thuney received $76,487.
Harrison wants to play
Perhaps the daily workout videos posted on social media were a clue, but James Harrison isn’t ready for retirement.
The veteran linebacker, who is now a free agent, wants to keep playing football in 2018, according to a league source. The Patriots have reached out to the 39-year-old, though that doesn’t mean Harrison won’t have other suitors.
Harrison joined the Patriots on a one-year deal in December after getting released by the Steelers, with whom he had spent all but one year of his career. Although he is not the All-Pro pass rusher he once was, Harrison was a quick study in New England and showed he had a little something left in the tank with two sacks and 13 tackles in four games, including the playoffs.
Harrison, who takes excellent care of his body with regular treatments like acupuncture and a legendary workout regimen, would be entering his 16th NFL season.
DE Clayborn pursued
The Patriots are reportedly among a handful of teams pursuing defensive end Adrian Clayborn, along with the Falcons, Colts, Buccaneers, and Browns.
Clayborn, 29 and entering his eighth NFL season, spent the last three years with the Falcons, leading Atlanta in sacks in 2017 with 9.5.