According to a tweet today from Patriots' beat writer Mike Reiss, free-agent running back LaGarrette Blount will visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are looking to add a power element to their running game. They also hosted Maurice Jones-Drew this week.
Blount, who the Patriots received from Tampa Bay last offseason in exchange for Jeff Demps, was one of the biggest surprises for the team this past year. His role in the offense was magnified when Shane Vereen was hurt, and Steven Ridley fumbling problems resurfaced.
For the most part, he was up to the task of carrying the workload at running back, particularly at the end of the year. In the team's divisional round win over the Colts, he rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He, like most of the Pats offensive players, was a non-factor in the AFC Championship loss to the Broncos.
On the year, Blount racked up 772 yards on 153 attempts, finding the end zone 7 times. All of these figures exceeded expectations for the heavy-set rusher. Aqib Talib, Julian Edelman, and Blount were the Patriots Big 3 free agents this offseason. Talib has departed, and Edelman has been retained. Blount's status remains up in the air. His visit with the Steelers is the first that has been reported since the end of the year.
According to Mike Reiss, the Patriots and Blount have "kept lines of communication open" and "the market will dictate" where Blount ends up. Retaining him seems like a good move given the inconsistency of both Ridley and Vereen, but if the Patriots cannot get Blount at their price, he could be gone. This is one to keep an eye on.