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Free Agent Forecast: Offensive Backfield

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The new NFL year begins Wednesday, March 13, and with it, the advent of 2019’s free agent marketplace. Leading up to that first day, we’ll examine the landscape from a Patriots perspective, continuing with the offensive backfield (quarterbacks and running backs).

PATRIOTS FREE AGENTS

Jeremy Hill (RB)

OTHER NOTABLE NFL FREE AGENTS

Quarterbacks: Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles), Matt Cassel (Detroit Lions), Josh McCown (New York Jets)

Running Backs: LeGarrette Blount (Detroit Lions), T.J. Yeldon (Jacksonville Jaguars), Frank Gore (Miami Dolphins), Latavius Murray (Minnesota Vikings), Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints), Jay Ajayi (Philadelphia Eagles), Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Fullbacks: Tommy Bohanon (Jacksonville Jaguars), Anthony Sherman (Kansas City)

POSSIBLE PATRIOTS

Quarterbacks: None

Running Backs: Hill, Yeldon, Murray, Ingram

Fullbacks: None

ANALYSIS

When Hill was lost for the season last September before he could even finish his first game as a Patriot, it appeared to be a significant blow to New England’s backfield. He’d just come to Foxborough as a free agent during the offseason and had beaten out incumbent Mike Gillislee for the “big back” role.

Now coming off a serious knee injury, Hill might not have many options in free agency, so, it wouldn’t stun me to see him return to New England. However, the Patriots might also want to upgrade his spot with an even bigger, younger player like Yeldon or Murray, both of whom are above six feet and 200 pounds. Though smaller in stature, Ingram is a proven veteran in this league and could be an option to compete for a role in New England’s committee backfield.

Bohanon and Sherman are both solid fullbacks, but the Patriots already have a Pro Bowl-caliber player at that spot in James Develin.

At QB, the Super Bowl champs appear to be stocked with Brady returning, along with backup Brian Hoyer and promising 2018 rookie Danny Etling. Don’t be surprised if New England adds further to the passer depth chart by adding a quarterback during draft weekend, but inking a veteran free agent appears unlikely at this stage.

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