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In Focus: Examining Patriots swap of Jeff Demps for LeGarrette Blount

04.27.13 at 4:39 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots brought the Jeff Demps era to an unceremonious end on Saturday, shipping the Olympic silver medalist and a seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay for running back LeGarrette Blount.

The 5-foot-7, 175-pound Demps, who was signed late last summer by the Patriots but suffered a (ahem) season-ending injury that caused him to spend the year on injured reserve, made noise recently about possibly splitting time between track and football. This likely didn’€™t go over well in New England — last month, Demps explained what he would say to Bill Belichick if the Patriots’€™ coach asked him about doing both football and track.

‘€œListen coach, I want to do both, but in order for me to get to where I want to be on the track and field side, it’€™ll take a full year of preparation,’€ Demps told Sports Talk Florida. ‘€œAnd after the season, if you guys are willing to let me come back ‘€” you know, probably midseason ‘€” and work out and train and get ready for the season, I’€™ll be able to do that. If not, then I guess I’€™ll just focus on running.’€

With that — in addition to the recent pickup of veteran man Leon Washington — it’€™s hardly a surprise that the Patriots decided to make the deal they did. It’€™s also not a surprise that New England dealt him to Tampa Bay: Greg Schiano has been in charge of the Bucs for just over a year, but he and Belichick have been pals dating back to Schiano’€™s time at Rutgers, and they’€™ve shown a proclivity to work out deals in the past. The Patriots picked up former Tampa Bay tight end Kellen Winslow off the scrap heap last year for a cup of coffee, and New England and the Bucs swung a deal that brought cornerback Aqib Talib to the Patriots last season.

As for how this impacts New England, Blount is an intriguing addition to an already full-house backfield. At 6-feet and 247 pounds, the 26-year-old Blount is a big, physical back in the mold of Brandon Bolden. (As a result, if he’€™s healthy coming into the 2013 season, he could battle with Bolden for playing time.) He’€™s a between-the-tackles runner who put up some good numbers — as a rookie in 2010, he rushed for a career-best 1,007 yards on 201 carries, adding six touchdowns.

However, his production has dropped off dramatically over the last two seasons, to a point where he had 151 yards on 41 carries this past season in Tampa Bay. (To be fair, some of that could be because of the recent emergence of Doug ‘€œMuscle Hamster’€ Martin, who got the bulk of the carries last year and finished the season with 319 carries for 1,454 yards.) This spring, he signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Bucs that contained no guaranteed money.

Ultimately, in the eyes of the Patriots, it allows them to get rid of a meddlesome issue involving Demps in exchange for the chance to build some depth at running back with no long-term financial ramifications. A win-win in New England.

Read More: Jeff Demps, LeGarrette Blount,
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