Pats give Super Bowl hero James White 3-year contract extension

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots running back James White, who played the best game of his career in Super Bowl LI, has reached a three-year contract extension with the team, sources tell ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

White, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season, is now inked through the 2020 season.

The extension comes on the same day the Patriots extended a two-year, $6.4 million offer sheet to restricted free-agent running back Mike Gillislee. The Bills have until Monday to decide to match that offer.

As for the 5-foot-10, 205-pound White, he fills the "passing back" role in the Patriots' offense, which is significant given how often the team throws the football. His strong pass-catching skills and willingness to pick up the blitz are part of what makes him an asset to the team in that role.

The 2016 season was White's first full year as the team's front-line "passing back" and he finished second on the team with 60 receptions for 551 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 166 yards rushing on 39 carries.

He saved his best performance for Super Bowl LI, as his 2-yard touchdown run capped off the Patriots' 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons. That the Patriots put the ball in White's hands at that critical moment spoke volumes of the team's confidence in him.

White finished the Super Bowl with 14 catches for 110 yards and one receiving touchdown, while adding six rushes for 29 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a successful two-point conversion rush.

White, 25, entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice of the Patriots out of Wisconsin. After a quiet rookie season in which he appeared in just three games and was inactive for the Super Bowl XLIX victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the soft-spoken White started to play more in the second half of the 2015 season after fellow running back Dion Lewis tore his ACL in early November.

He quickly won over coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

This past February, Brady said, "He just does everything right, and you can never get mad at him. Even when he doesn't make the play, he feels worse about it than you do. He's just the best teammate, an incredible player, and has been that way since he really assumed the big role when Dion got hurt. I've seen him grow up as a rookie, to working his tail off and becoming a big factor in all these games."