Patriots' interest in Ezekiel Elliott is deeper than what was initially reported

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers
NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The most recent visits and workouts the Patriots have had indicate they are far from done adding to their team. Although some may wish they would actively pursue wide receivers more, Bill Belichick and co. appear set to add another weapon out of the backfield for Mac Jones to work with.

After not re-signing Damien Harris in free agency and waiving James Robinson earlier this year, all focus shifted back to Rhamondre Stevenson, the obvious RB1.

He carried the majority of snaps among running backs last season, even getting involved more in the passing game, but due to the risk of injury and exhaustion, it's clear he will need another reliable back to alternate with.

The assumption was that Ty Montgomery might become that guy since he is an established half-back the Patriots love to utilize. But an early injury in the opening days of training camp pushes that plan back temporarily, forcing (or allowing) Belichick to explore other options.

The search for that type of player began even before Montgomery's injury when Leonard Fournette and Darrelle Henderson were brought in for visits a week ago.

Then came the news that after all the speculation, Matt Groh confirmed the team's interest in setting up a visit with Dalvin Cook. Whether that will actually happen is yet to be seen. But we do know the running back will be visiting with the Jets, who is favored to be where Cook will sign.

With that news taking over the New England area, it was shocking to hear that fellow free agent running back and former Dallas Cowboy Ezekiel Elliott was visiting with the Patriots on Saturday. There had been no indication of communication or interest between the two parties, but it all made sense given the recent surge of running back visits in Foxboro.

Later in the day, it was reported Elliott left without a contract, disappointing most fans hoping the team would finally add a star player. However, a photo was then posted online of Mac Jones and Elliott out to dinner together in Boston, seemingly discussing a potential joining of forces perhaps?

It may be too soon to get excited about the possibility of the three-time Pro Bowler signing with the Patriots since DeAndre Hopkins' visit lasted longer than usual, and all signs pointed to him signing there. But it does seem the Patriots' intrigue of Elliott is serious, as ESPN reporter Ed Werder reported Saturday afternoon.

Werder revealed that Belichick spoke directly to the Cowboys' executive vice president, CEO, and director of player personnel Stephen Jones about Elliott before inviting him in for a visit. This is the kind of due diligence that not most coaches or general managers would do for a free agent.

It's a solid indication of how interested the Patriots really are in signing the talented running back, and maybe a deal will get done sooner than later.