James White: ‘It was only right to come back’ to Patriots

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Patriots veteran running back James White had a busy offseason.

He fulfilled a promise to his parents by finishing his studies at Wisconsin to earn his degree in Life Sciences Communication.

Oh, and he also dipped his toe into the free agency waters for the first time since landing in New England as a fourth-round pick in 2014. In the end, one of the NFL’s best pass catching running backs re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal worth a reportedly fully guaranteed $2.5 million.

“Very familiar with everybody,” White explained during a Tuesday video call with reporters of his decision to stay in New England. “They always put me in position to succeed. And being back around these guys in the locker room, we have a great group of guys who have helped me shape the player and the person who I am today, the coaches and the players. So it was only right to come back and compete. Last year we didn’t do our best so it’s going to be fun to come out here and see how excited everybody is to get back out there and compete.”

White reportedly garnered interested from a number of teams on the open market, including Tom Brady’s Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, but nothing came to fruition elsewhere.

“It’s definitely a different experience,” White said of free agency. “Obviously with COVID and everything it’s a little bit different with that and the salary cap and all that. But it’s good to be back, be with familiar faces and guys that I know and get back in the locker room with these guys and bounce back and be better than what we did last year.

“Free agency is really strange, honestly. Day to day everything kind of changes a little bit. Some days a team may have interest, some days they may not. The next day they might have interest. It’s a little different than you can ever imagine. It’s a lot of worrying what’s going to be next and where you are going to be at next. But obviously the Patriots were in the mix the whole time. It’s good to be back, back with these guys and find a way to improve. It starts now.”

Now 29 years old with seven years of NFL action under his belt, White isn’t taking anything for granted. He said he’s “blessed” to still be with the team that drafted him and still earning a living in the game of football.

At this point his busy offseason will turn towards preparing for a 2021 campaign.

Like a Patriots team that missed the playoffs with a mere seven wins last fall, White wasn’t at his best in 2020. Working without Brady for the first time in his career, his 49 catches for 375 yards and one score were his least productive season since really his rookie year.

Earlier this offseason fellow Patriots captain David Andrews talked about his decision to re-sign with New England this spring and a desire to simply get back to work. White sounds like he’s taking a similar approach now that the business side of things is behind him, at least for this year.

“I think you are always excited about. I think everyone is probably extra excited because obviously we didn’t perform our best last year,” White said. “Everybody is excited, chomping at the bit to get back out there and just be better. Compete in practice. Compete in games. Make each other better. It’s all about improvement.”