NFL rumors: Patriots trying to lure another big-name star to boost offense

New England Patriots (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
New England Patriots (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots played host to free agent running back Ezekiel Elliott with the regular season on the horizon. 

The New England Patriots have been involved in free agency rumors for several offensive stars, from DeAndre Hopkins to the still-available Dalvin Cook. Now, another name joins the list of potential big-name additions with opening week in September right around the corner.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the Patriots hosted free agent running back Ezekiel Elliott on Saturday. With training camp underway, the Patriots are potentially hoping to bolster their underwhelming backfield.

Elliott has spent his entire summer on the free agent market after failing to agree to new terms on a contract with Dallas. The Cowboys’ decision to ride with Tony Pollard signals a new chapter in Elliott’s career. Now, he’s hoping to get a contract to prove his mettle outside of Dallas’ RB-friendly system.

New England Patriots interested in potentially signing Ezekiel Elliott

It’s clear the Patriots, who finished last season with the ninth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL, are interested in boosting the run game. Mac Jones regressed in his second season under center and the Patriots’ pass game doesn’t inspire much confidence as a result. If the Patriots are going to scrape out a half-decent season, it will require a balanced and consistent offense.

That starts with the run game. Bill Belichick has earned the benefit of the doubt as a head coach. He’s one of the smartest football minds we’ve ever seen. He has gotten a lot out of motley-crew backfields in the past. Elliott is no longer the workhorse No. 1 back of yesteryear, but he can vacuum up short-yardage gains in a timeshare with New England’s other backs.

Elliott would face competition for touches in the New England backfield, primarily from third-year speedster Rhamondre Stevenson. The 2021 fourth-round pick from Cerritos College in California toted the ball for 1,040 yards last season. He also added 69 receptions for 421 yards through the air.

That versatility could make Stevenson the perfect yin to Elliott’s yang in a two-man timeshare. Elliott has never been much of a pass-catcher, instead focusing his energy on plowing through tackles at the line of scrimmage and beating defenses the hard way. Still built with abnormal strength and power for his position, Elliott can give the Patriots a battering ram on first down and short-yardage plays while Stevenson handles finesse duties on second and third down.

The Patriots would probably prefer to add Dalvin Cook, but it would appear the former Vikings feature back is flirting with Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets. If Cook ends up in New York, that would pave the way for New England to offer a contract — and a significant role — to Elliott, who still managed 876 yards and 12 touchdowns in 15 appearances for Dallas last season.

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