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How Dolphins' Damien Williams almost became a Patriot this offseason

Damien Williams eventually signed a one-year tender with Miami worth $1.8 million. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

DAVIE, Fla. -- It was one of the under-the-radar stories of the offseason that did not get much publicity. But Miami Dolphins backup running back Damien Williams almost joined the New England Patriots.

Here is the backstory: Williams was a restricted free agent who had yet to sign his one-year tender. The Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl champions, were looking for running back depth ahead of the draft and met with Williams and former Buffalo Bills tailback Mike Gillislee, who both were restricted free agents.

“It was weird, but it was different,” Williams said of being inside the Patriots’ facility for the first time.

New England chose Gillislee instead and offered him a two-year, $6.4 million contract, which the Bills didn’t match. But who knows how close the Patriots were to choosing Williams? It’s unlikely the Dolphins would have matched a similar contract offer since they have a Pro Bowl running back ahead of Williams in Jay Ajayi already on the roster.

Last week during mandatory minicamp, Williams explained what it was like to meet with New England head coach Bill Belichick during the spring.

“He’s ‘A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie,’” Williams said, laughing. “No, I met him. He’s a cool dude. ... He’s a cool person. He’s quiet. He’s very observant.”

Williams said he kept in contact with the Dolphins and head coach Adam Gase throughout the process. He eventually signed a one-year tender with Miami worth $1.8 million and is expected to resume a key offensive role as the first running back off the bench and to play some on third down. The Dolphins also look to Williams as one of the team's emotional leaders.

“I came here undrafted. This is somewhere I want to be,” Williams said. “This is somewhere I devoted all of my time to. I love every guy that I play with, the coaching staff and everyone who works in the facility.”