ProFootballTalk.com first reported the news of the tender being issued.
The tender, which is a seldom-used mechanism, means that if Blount remains unsigned past July 22, he can play only for the Patriots during the 2017 season. If he signs before that date with another team, Blount would count toward the 2018 compensatory draft pick formula. The tender carries a value of $2.1 million for Blount, which includes money earned via incentives and base salary.
The tender had to be extended by May 9. Blount was the only player in the NFL to receive the UFA tender this year, a source said.
A source told ESPN's Josina Anderson that the clubs expressing interest in signing Blount are vetting a deal structure that can navigate the compensatory pick calculation. Blount does not immediately intend to sign the unrestricted free-agent tender, the source said.
The teams are researching this deal structure to see if the NFL's management council would approve it, the source said. If the council does approve such a deal, it is believed this would be the first time a deal structure was created to circumvent the compensatory benefit.
After the free-agent additions of Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead, Blount appeared to be the odd man out in New England's backfield. The 30-year-old is coming off a career year, rushing for 1,161 yards and a league-high 18 touchdowns in the Patriots' march toward Super Bowl LI.
There was an expectation that Blount's market, which has been quiet to this point, would pick up after the date that unrestricted free-agent signings do not count toward the compensatory formula, but this tender could cool a potential market.
The door for a return for Blount, the team's power back during his time in New England, seemingly still would be open. That would put seven running backs in focus for the team, as the Patriots' backfield also boasts James White (signed to a three-year extension this offseason), Dion Lewis, veteran Brandon Bolden (a special-teams contributor) and D.J. Foster, a promising developmental player.
Blount was in Boston on Wednesday night, attending Game 5 of the Wizards-Celtics Eastern Conference semifinal series at TD Garden along with several current Patriots, as well as New England coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.
The Patriots, who host the Kansas City Chiefs to open the 2017 regular season, have made a flurry of offseason moves, including trading for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, defensive end Kony Ealy and tight end Dwayne Allen.