The New England Patriots signed Ezekiel Elliott on Monday to a contract that can be worth up to $6 million, but the addition of the former rushing champion makes no sense. There were rumors connecting the two sides for what seemed like weeks, and the deal finally came to fruition on Monday.
This is the second notable free agent running back signing that the team has made. They signed former 1,000 yard rusher in James Robinson at the beginning of free agency to a two year, $8 million deal, but he was cut soon after as he could not separate himself from the other RBs not named Rhamondre Stevenson. The team doubles down on adding another body to the RB room with the addition of Elliott.
To me, though, this does not make a ton of sense. I get that there is some uncertainty about the RB2 role behind third-year back Rhamondre Stevenson, but man, I don't think Elliott was the answer. One big reason sticks out to me, and perhaps you think I'm naive for thinking it, but Elliott has been the most productive running back in the NFL over the last 10 or so seasons.
He's got over 8,000 rushing yards, 10,000 scrimmage yards, and 80 total touchdowns in seven seasons in the NFL, and playing for the Dallas Cowboys during that time certainly put a huge beacon of attention on the player, who had a career-low 3.8 yards per carry in 2022. Elliott shared the backfield with Tony Pollard last year. Pollard rushed for 1,007 yards on just 193 carries, which comes out to a hearty 5.2 yards per tote.
Tell me why Ezekiel Elliott got 231 carries, a whopping 38 more than Pollard last year? Elliott was simply not a productive runner. He did get a ton of carries at the goal line but also was the team's RB1 and main starter last year. To me, the main issue I have with this addition for the Patriots is that I think Elliott is going to get more carries than he should because of who he is and what the back of his jerseys says.
Ezekiel Elliott is one of the most popular running backs of this generation. His famous "Feed Zeke" mantra and cut-off shirt exposing his abdomen was surely copied by NFL fans all across the globe. The truth, though, is that Elliott is not a good running back anymore, and I think Bill O'Brien is going to go out of his way to give him carries that Rhamondre Stevenson should be getting.