Patriots should chase running back Austin Ekeler
Ekeler makes sense for New England for too many reasons. He is kind of like Christian McCaffrey-lite in that he can is a fine running back, but he is also a spectacular receiver. Currently, the Patriots running back room consists of 87-year-old Ezekiel Elliott and a bunch of guys like me (hint: you will lose a lot of games because of that combination).
Ekeler also should not be overly expensive. The running back market is underpaid compared to most other positions recently, of course, but because Ekeler is a jack of all trades but a master of none, he isn't going to get $10 million a year. This works out well for New England because they would be adding a versatile player who can bail out the quarterback by catching passes out of the backfield while also averaging a solid 4-plus yards a carry.
In 2023, Ekeer is not having his best season. In fact, he is averaging a career-low in yards per carry (3.6, and his career average is 4.4), but he is still getting close to 10 yards per reception, which is more than solid. Historically, Ekeler has proven he has a nose for finding the end zone, too.
While he has just six total touchdowns this year, he led the NFL in combined touchdowns in both 2021 and 2022. He hasn't gotten so many rushes over his carry that he has been overused either, so he should still be a relatively fresh 29-year-old who can help teach whichever young running backs the Patriots pick up in the draft in 2024.