BOSTON (CBS) — James White became a surprise hero for the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. The team is hoping the 25-year-old running back can deliver for them in a few more big games, signing White to a three-year contract extension worth up to $12 million.

White’s extension was somewhat surprising for fans and media, as the fourth-year back out of Wisconsin enters the 2017 season on the final year of his rookie deal. But it was even surprising for White himself.

Speaking to reporters for the first time in the 2017 league year in Foxboro, White admitted the contract was a “surprising development” but added that it won’t affect his effort or performance, one way or another.

“[The Patriots] brought the offer to me and I accepted it,” said White. “But at the same time, it’s not going to change who I am. I’m going to continue to work, continue to do whatever this team asks me to do, and just follow the lead of all our leaders and coaches.”

628 james white patriots falcons super bowl James White On His Surprising Contract Extension With Patriots

James White celebrates rushing for a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

White will earn a $690,000 base salary in 2017, followed by $1 million in 2018, $2.5 million in 2019, and $3 million in 2020. The deal includes a $4 million signing bonus and $4.69 million guaranteed.

White was an effective pass-catching running back for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense in 2016, catching 60 passes for 551 yards (a 9.2-yard average) and five receiving touchdowns. He exploded, of course, in Super Bowl LI with 14 catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning rushing TD in overtime.

Though the extension might have been unexpected for White, it should come as no surprise that Bill Belichick would reward a player like him. White has done nothing but work hard and do his job ever since he first suited up for the Patriots, epitomizing the famous phrase “Dependability is more important than ability.”


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