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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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LeGarrette Blount was acquired by the Patriots on Saturday. (AP)

LeGarrette Blount was acquired by the Patriots on Saturday. (AP)

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.

“Listen 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. “And 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 “Muscle 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.

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