For the second time in as many years, the Buffalo Bills are letting a restricted free agent bolt for a division rival.

Buffalo declined to match the offer sheet given to Mike Gillislee, officially allowing the running back to join the New England Patriots, the team announced Monday.

The Patriots extended Gillislee a two-year, $6.4-million deal last week.

In what can be considered a strategic move to give the Bills a more difficult decision in regard to matching, the contract was structured in a way that included $4 million in the first season.

Buffalo receives a fifth-round pick (No. 163 overall) from the Patriots as compensation in accordance with their decision to give Gillislee an original-round tender.

Just as wide receiver Chris Hogan did this time last year, the 26-year-old heads to the perennial Super Bowl-contending Patriots where the opportunity for a particularly interesting role awaits.

Gillislee, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry in the past two seasons, can presumably be considered the favorite for the early-down role in a backfield rotation that features dynamic passing game backs Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and James White.

LeGarrette Blount enjoyed the most productive season of his career in that spot in 2016, taking 299 carries for 1,161 yards and a league-high 18 touchdowns.

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