Lions upgrade at running back by signing LeGarrette Blount

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have found an upgrade at running back.

The Lions agreed to a one-year deal with LeGarrette Blount, the team announced Friday night. A team source confirmed the contract is valued at $2 million, with the ability for Blount to earn up to $2.5 million more in incentives.

Blount, 31, spent last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, rushing for 766 yards and two touchdowns for the Super Bowl winners. He rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown in the victory over the New England Patriots.

It’s the third time in four years Blount has earned a championship ring; he got two with the Patriots, in 2015 and 2017.

He provides a much-needed north-south runner to Detroit’s roster with the proven ability to convert on short-yardage situations.

The Lions finished last in the NFL last season, converting just 27 percent on carries when needing two or fewer yards on third or fourth down. Blount has been successful on 56.5 percent of those situations the past two seasons.

The 6-foot-1, 250-pound Blount averaged 4.4 yards per carry last season, his best rate in three years, matching his career average. He’ll join a rotation in Detroit that’s struggled to move the ball on the ground, finishing 32nd in both rushing yards and yards per attempt in 2017.

The signing reconnects Blount with Lions general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia. The Patriots first acquired Blount in a 2014 trade, when Quinn was heading the team’s pro personnel department.

The timing of the addition is somewhat curious given the Lions had a need and Quinn had an opportunity to add Blount to the roster the past two offseasons. Both years, the veteran back sat on the market for weeks before ultimately agreeing to a pair of one-year deals, valued at slightly more than $1 million each.

Prior to signing Blount, the Lions met with three other veteran running backs — Jonathan Stewart, DeMarco Murray and Frank Gore.

Stewart signed with the New York Giants, netting a two-year pact worth $6.9 million. Murray, the youngest of the options at 30, left Detroit to meet with Seattle, another team with a glaring need at the position. He remains unsigned.

Gore visited on Thursday and there were reports the 35-year-old back was close to an agreement with the Lions, prior to the team settling on Blount.