LeGarrette Blount almost dressed down for his interview with the Detroit Lions on Friday, mostly so he could get his old coach -- and now, his new coach -- to laugh a little bit. Dressing down, though, would have also meant paying homage to Matt Patricia, the man who he first got to know during their shared time with the New England Patriots.
And even though Blount hasn’t been with New England since the 2016 season, he still owns his red Matt Patricia Patriots hooded sweatshirt, with Patricia written across the top and the then-Patriots’ defensive coordinator’s face in the front of the Patriots logo.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 23, 2017
For the actual interview, though, Blount decided to go with more traditional business attire. Not that it would have mattered, as once Blount heard from the Lions, he knew there was a good chance he’d feel comfortable with the organization.
And with its new leader.
“My relationship with Matty has always been a great one, even though he was on the defensive side of the ball, he was the D-coordinator,” Blount said on a teleconference Monday. “Any time I saw him in any part of the building, whether it’s just walking by in the hallway or the cafeteria or even at practice, whatever, whatever the circumstance may be, any time he would walk past or any time we were around each other, it was always laughs and jokes.
“Obviously we get serious when it’s time to do the job but for the most part we laugh, we joke, we clown around. We laugh and we enjoy each other and it had gotten to the point where we had got really close.”
That closeness, Blount said, made it easier for him to go to the Lions. He knew the staff going in. He knew what to expect from the head coach. That led to less pressure when he chose to sign. It gave him a comfort level that he probably wouldn't find anywhere else. Blount said that when the Lions called he got excited “just for the simple fact that it was Matty.”
Blount ended up signing a one-year deal with the Lions that includes a fully guaranteed $1 million base salary, a $1 million signing bonus and the chance to earn up to $2.5 million more in incentives based on playing time, rushing yards and touchdowns. It’s the third straight one-year deal he has signed, something he said he doesn’t mind. His past two one-year deals have ended with Super Bowl wins -- first for the Patriots and last season for the Eagles.
The 31-year-old Blount, though, cares more about putting himself in the right situation than the money attached to it. And the Lions are counting on it being the right move for the franchise. He’s expected to have some sort of role in a backfield that was the worst in the NFL in yards per game and yards per carry last season. Blount said he hasn't had conversations yet with Detroit about how he’ll be used in 2018.
He does give Detroit a power back who is capable of picking up short yardage -- an area the Lions struggled with last season. He has averaged 2.73 yards on third-down rushes throughout his career and 2.71 yards per rush in his career on third-and-1 or fourth-and-1. He’s also been an effective goal-line back -- something Detroit hasn’t had since at least Joique Bell during the 2013 season.
Of course there are always questions with a veteran back, even though his 1,341 carries are fewer than other backs his age and he’s rushed for 700 yards or more in each of the past three seasons.
Blount insists he has a lot left.
“They are going to get a good veteran running back that has a lot of years and a lot of miles left on him,” Blount said. “And is going to go out there and play as hard as he possibly can for the organization and for Matty P.
“I’m not one that’s losing a lot of games and Matty P’s not one that’s losing a lot of games, so we want to go out there and just do everything we possibly can to get us wins.”