The Buffalo Bills made a few announcements on Monday, including that they’ve placed an original tender on running back Mike Gillislee.
Ever since the season ended, I’ve been pretty vocal about making Mike Gillislee a priority during free agency. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to hesitate, but luckily neither did the Buffalo Bills.
On Monday, after it was announced that the team had freed about $6 million in cap space by releasing 5 players, the team announced that they ave sent their first offer to Mike Gillislee. It is an original round tender, meaning the Bills could be due a 5th round draft pick if he were to walk in free agency.
Ian Rapaport originally broke the news on Twitter yesterday:
For those of you that don’t know what an “original tender” is, it’s quite simple. Restricted free agents, which are players that have completed three accrued seasons and their contract is set to expire, hold a lot of power in free agency.
To better understand this, ThoughtCo.com explained it perfectly:
"A restricted free agent is a player who has received a “qualifying” offer (negotiated in the CBA) from his old club, but is free to negotiate with any club through the free agent signing period. If he accepts an offer sheet from a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him, or not match the offer and possibly receive draft-choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer."
There are three different tenders when sending offers to restricted free agents — first round, second round and low round/original tenders. With the original tender, if Mike Gillislee were to accept an offer sheet from another team, the Buffalo Bills would receive a 5th round draft pick at a cost of $1.8 million.
For good measure, recent fifth round draft picks by the Buffalo Bills include Jonathan Williams, Karlos Williams, Cyril Richardson, Jonathan Meeks and none other than Kyle Williams — who announced his return to the Bills earlier last week.
Of course, I don’t expect the Bills to have to worry about receiving a fifth round draft pick because I think a deal with Gillislee will happen very soon — a long term deal at that. The versatility he brings to this offense and most importantly the run-game is uncompared in this league.
It’s not everyday that a football team has a backup running back that would be a starter anywhere else and it’s part of the reason this team has donned the top rushing attack in the NFL over the past two seasons.
Since joining the team in 2015, the same year as Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy, Gillislee has combined for 844 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 148 carries. His 5.7 yards per carry over that span is admirable to say the least and has proven that he is one of the most efficient running backs in the league.
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There were only 10 running backs that scored more touchdowns than Mike Gillislee last season — McCoy being one of them. Having two running backs in the top-10 for touchdowns is special.
39 of Gillislee’s carries went for a first down, which ranked 22nd in the league. Not only is that a 39% first down rate, but it’s higher than any RB that had more than 100 carries last season. In addition, he had 7 carries go for 20+ yards and one go for 40+ yards — something that was only done by 45 players last season — including LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor.
That starts with re-signing Gillislee to a long-term contract. Hopefully it happens soon, or else the team will face the same reality as last offseason with Chris Hogan. I’m not sure if a fifth round draft pick will fill the void, either.
other than Gillislee, the Buffalo Bills have decisions on three other restricted free agents — IK Enemkpali, Colton Schmidt and Ryan Groy — in addition to their 22 unrestricted free agents. Groy should be another must-sign this offseason, like Mike Gillislee.