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

The Patriots are reportedly pairing the former Cowboys star with Rhamondre Stevenson to form a formidable running back duo. 

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot (21).
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot (21).

After lurking around the market for weeks, the Patriots are making a late splash by signing three-time Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, according to multiple reports.

The Patriots reportedly hosted the former Cowboys star on a free-agent visit earlier this summer and are now adding Elliott to a somewhat thin running back room. After releasing free-agent addition James Robinson in the spring, the Patriots entered training camp with five running backs on their 90-man roster, including versatile receiver Ty Montgomery.

However, Montgomery has missed the bulk of training camp, while the team has managed lead-back Rhamondre Stevenson's workload this summer. With the Pats taking it easy on Stevenson and Montgomery's injury, only second-year running backs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris, and veteran J.J. Taylor played in last Thursday night's preseason opener.

Although Stevenson is RB1 for the Patriots, the need for experienced veteran depth behind the third-year back was another potential reason to reportedly add Elliott into the mix. Harris and Strong have shown promise but only combined for 27 touches as rookies, making them relatively unknowns. Montgomery, on the other hand, has failed to stay healthy in back-to-back training camps.

As for Elliott, the former first-rounder was released by Dallas in March with a post-June 1st designation after seven seasons in a cap-saving maneuver following a down year in the 2022 season. Elliott was entering year five of a six-year contract extension he signed in 2019, playing through knee ailments in the last two seasons. With the veteran running back's explosiveness declining, the Cowboys began relying more on backup Tony Pollard, who was franchise tagged by Dallas this offseason.

The veteran running back churned out 12 rushing touchdowns as a productive goal-line back last season but had a career-low 876 rushing yards, averaging only 3.8 yards per rush. For comparison, Pollard made the Pro Bowl with a 5.2 rushing yards average despite Elliott being the starter.

Although it's fair to say Zeke's best days might be behind him, Elliott can still be an effective between-the-tackles and short-yardage runner while being a reliable pass protector in blitz pickup. His straight-line burst to produce explosive runs, or turn the corner on the edge, is not what it once was, but he has enough in the tank to serve as an experienced backup to Stevenson.

Last season, Stevenson played over 66 percent of New England's offensive snaps, accumulating 279 touches in his second season. The Patriots must find a way to manage Stevenson's workload better this season, and that's why Elliott is here. With Zeke's abilities to run the ball between the tackles on early-downs, it theoretically lessens Stevenson's workload on first and second down, which will allow Rhamondre to continue participating in the passing game, where he has great chemistry with quarterback Mac Jones.

The Patriots needed a reliable veteran backup to help spell Stevenson and reportedly found one in Elliott.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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