The AFC East saw both Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook sign earlier this week. After these additions, how do the division's backfields stack up with one another? The New England Patriots were able to sign Ezekiel Elliott to a one year deal that can be worth up to $6 million, and the New York Jets signed Dalvin Cook to a deal that can be worth up to $8.6 million. Honestly, both players got nice paydays for it being this late in free agency.
After these two players signed earlier this week, the AFC East running backs now look pretty stacked. It's clear that teams like the Patriots and Jets are going to be run-first teams, and both the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins figure to be pass-first offenses. Even in the modern-day NFL, teams do need to establish the run to an extent to win games.
This might benefit the Patriots and the Jets. Running the ball effectively allows teams to chew up the clock, and that might be how the Pats have to win games this year. With the recent RB additions, let's rank the AFC East running back rooms from worst to first.
Ranking AFC East backfields heading into 2023 after Zeke Elliott, Dalvin Cook additions
4. Buffalo Bills - James Cook, Damien Harris, Latavius Murray
The Buffalo Bills have a bunch of "eh" in their backfield for the 2023 NFL season. They really have never been able to consistently establish the run, as star QB Josh Allen has had to take a huge role in the run game, which isn't something the Bills want to continue. The team added Harris and Murray this year, who are both fine players.
However, there is no clear RB1 with this team, and I could see a situation where these three projected RBs for the Bills all get a solid amount of work in the offense. If nothing else, the Bills do have a deeper RB room than a lot of teams, but with no true bruiser, 2023 could be another inefficient rushing year for the team.
3. Miami Dolphins - Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., De'Von Achane
Raheem Mostert rushed for 891 yards last year and Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for 860. It's clear that the Dolphins have a committee RB approach, and that's fine I suppose. Like the Bills, the Dolphins don't have a true RB1, but all of Mostert, Wilson Jr, and De'Von Achane, a rookie draft pick, have insane speed, so that's how they'll beat teams on the ground.
They are also playing in a Shanahan-style offense, which doesn't necessarily need a true RB1 getting a bulk of the carries like Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry do. The Dolphins and the Bills were both in on Dalvin Cook, and when you look at their projected contributors in the RB room, it's easy to see why.
Miami does have a potent passing attack, so they probably won't have to rely heavily on the run game. However, this could come back to bite them late in the season.