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The New England Patriots Should Not Add a Veteran Running Back

The New England Patriots brought in veteran running back Ezekiel Elliot for a visit but should the Patriots look to add a veteran back?
Patriots Running Back

Over the weekend, the New England Patriots brought former Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot in for a visit. By all accounts, the visit was productive for both sides, with Elliot spending an extra day in Boston going out to dinner with quarterback Mac Jones.

Although the Patriots will make roster changes to improve like every other team, why would the Patriots consider Elliot?

Elliot was arguably the best running back in football from 2016 to 2020 when he led the NFL in rushing yards twice. But looking at his statistics, he has decreased in performance every season. Much has to do with the emergence of Tony Pollard as his cohort. The argument could be made since Pollard was drafted, which is why Elliot’s production decreased. In four years, Elliot’s yards per game dropped by more than 20 yards from 85 per game in 2019 to 58 yards per game the last two seasons.

The Patriots Should Avoid Adding Veteran RB to Backfield

Ezekiel Elliot is Too Similar to Rhamondre Stevenson

Elliot could be considered a fair number two to Rhamondre Stevenson in New England. The only thing is Stevenson and Elliot are too similar. They both are listed as six feet tall and are both 228 pounds. The only thing separating them statistically is that Stevenson was much more productive on fewer carries. The thing is, why would you want two running backs who are mainly first and second-down backs? Yes, they can catch the ball out of the backfield, but can’t all running backs catch passes at the NFL level? It’s part of the job description.

The point is that they are too similar. With it looking more and more like the Dalvin Cook, rumors are more and more of a pipe dream. The Patriots have to think logically here. They had James Robinson, who was a nice compliment to the running back room but was released in June before OTAs. The Patriots are also reported to have extended invites to Leonard Fournette and Darrell Henderson, but again, they are similar running backs to Stevenson, the same as Elliot.

Focusing on New England Patriots RBs

Ideally, the Patriots should look internally. They drafted Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris last season. Strong looked the better of the two in their chances last year. But coming into this year, anyone would think he would be the one to become the relief back for Stevenson. The Patriots also have Ty Montgomery, who has officially switched to wide receiver full-time but is capable of being the “scat back” for the Patriots. Similar to James White during the 2010 Super Bowl-winning teams.

Harris has few reps going back to last season, so it is still being determined what he would look like in a game situation. Granted, the Patriots coaching staff sees him daily, so they have a pretty good idea. As the pre-season goes on, seeing how Strong and Harris will look will be interesting. I expect to see them throughout the three games, as there should be no reason to play Stevenson.

It would be nice to sign Cook because he and Stevenson could be a 1A, 1B running back tandem, but the odds are increasingly less and less as the days go on. If you can get Cook though he should be the only free agent they should add. Signing another veteran back would create more of a cluster than a benefit. It would be nice to have additional running backs. For now, though, from the outside looking inwards, the Patriots have depth, bearing injury.

Then you can go out and sign one of the veteran running backs. Although having more depth at the position could benefit the Patriots. Keeping the running backs you have now will only help the team move forward.

Main Photo: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports


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