Report: Patriots Sign Three-Time Pro Bowl RB Ezekiel Elliott

Patriots Sign :The Patriots are said to be teaming up the ex-Cowboys standout with Rhamondre Stevenson to create a potent running back tandem.
After observing the market for several weeks, the Patriots are generating a late surge by securing the services of three-time Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, as per multiple reports.

Earlier this summer, the Patriots reportedly welcomed the former Cowboys star for a free-agent visit, and now they are bolstering their somewhat sparse running back unit with the addition of Elliott. Following the release of free-agent acquisition James Robinson in the spring, the Patriots commenced training camp with a running back corps of five on their 90-man roster, which includes versatile receiver Ty Montgomery.
However, Montgomery has been absent for most of training camp, while the team has been carefully managing lead-back Rhamondre Stevenson’s workload this season. Given the cautious approach with Stevenson and Montgomery’s injury status, only second-year running backs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris, alongside veteran J.J. Taylor, saw action in last Thursday night’s preseason opener.

While Stevenson assumes the RB1 role for the Patriots, the potential requirement for seasoned and experienced depth behind the third-year back could be a contributing factor behind the reported decision to incorporate Elliott into the mix. Despite the potential of Harris and Strong, their rookie campaigns saw them collectively amass only 27 touches, rendering them relatively less familiar names. In contrast, Montgomery has faced challenges in maintaining his fitness across consecutive training camps.
Turning to Elliott, the former first-round pick was released by Dallas in March under a post-June 1st designation, marking the end of his seven-season tenure as part of a cap-saving strategy following a challenging 2022 season. Elliott, who was entering the fifth year of a six-year contract extension inked in 2019, grappled with knee issues over the past two seasons. With the seasoned running back’s burst waning, the Cowboys increasingly leaned on backup Tony Pollard, leading to Dallas applying the franchise tag on Pollard during this offseason.

With 12 rushing touchdowns to his credit, the seasoned running back proved his worth as a productive goal-line asset last season. Nonetheless, his rushing yardage hit a career-low of 876, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. By way of contrast, Pollard’s 5.2 rushing yards per attempt earned him a Pro Bowl nod, even though Elliott held the starting position.
While it’s reasonable to acknowledge that Zeke’s prime days might be in the rearview, Elliott retains the ability to be effective in between-the-tackles running and handling short-yardage situations, all while providing reliable pass protection during blitz pickups. While his straight-line burst for explosive plays or corner-turning agility may not match his past prowess, he still possesses enough capability to serve as an experienced backup to Stevenson.
In the previous season, Stevenson took part in over 66 percent of New England’s offensive snaps, amassing 279 touches in his second year. Ensuring a more balanced distribution of Stevenson’s workload becomes a priority for the Patriots this season, which is where Elliott’s role comes into play. With Zeke’s aptitude for running the ball between the tackles on early downs, it potentially alleviates some of Stevenson’s burden during first and second downs. This strategic shift allows Rhamondre to maintain his involvement in the passing game, where his rapport with quarterback Mac Jones shines.
The Patriots were in need of a dependable veteran backup to provide respite for Stevenson, and reportedly, they have found that solution in Elliott.

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