The biggest swing the Patriots could take at running back

If the Pats are going to usher in another young quarterback, they can make things easier by securing a strong backfield.

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders / Jeff Bottari/GettyImages

For years, the position of New England Patriots quarterback was the most certain in the game of football. These days no one is quite sure who will be standing under center on Sunday afternoons for the '24 season.

The glory days of Tom Brady have given way to a young carousel of uninspiring options in Foxborough spinning over the last few years, which makes it difficult to tell just what the Pats will do for next year. With the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, they may nab one of the draft's top young arms—maybe Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye?—or perhaps after years of Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, they're ready for a veteran.

Either way, the position is going to need a lot of help, both from a new coaching staff and an influx of talent.

If the Pats are going to usher in another young quarterback, they can make things easier by securing a strong backfield.

One way for the Patriots to ease into a new offensive identity in '24 and beyond is to strike up the running game as quickly as possible. And this is what makes a potential acquisition of Josh Jacobs so important this offseason.

Jacobs is at an interesting intersection this offseason as a player who has enjoyed banner seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders while also suffering some career dips—sometimes due to injury and others to inconsistency. But it hasn't helped to play for the hapless Raiders during this time in which the quarterback play and coaching involved only made things more difficult for anyone to generate positive production at all.

Last season was a down year for Jacobs one season after leading the NFL in rushing yards, but that doesn't mean he's on the decline. From an early-season coaching change to a late-season quad injury, Jacobs' year was not at all what anyone pictured for his contract year. One look at his 3.5 yards/carry average can paint a lazy picture and conjure Zeke Elliott comps, but there's a lot more reason for hope (and hopeful projections) for Jacobs in New England.

The good news for Jacobs beyond the proven ability to carry a significant load is that he's a solid pass catcher as well who caught north of 50 passes in two of the last three seasons in Vegas. Again, having such an option in the backfield is good for a new quarterback—veteran or rookie.

Not that it matters for a team flush with cap space, but the truth is that the running back market should be muted this offseason with so much premium talent made available at the same time. Household names litter the options for teams hungry for a veteran back including Tony Pollard, Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, and more. That means taking a big swing at Jacobs is not only possible but it shouldn't cost as much as other offseasons.

The Patriots also have Rhamondre Stevenson on the roster, and he'll have a healthy motivation for the '24 season coming into a contract year. Still, asking him to be the bell cow and leaving things thin in the backfield is a recipe for disaster for plenty of reasons, but mostly it's careless. The Pats have the money, the need, and the option to take on more of a good thing.

Stevenson gives the team a solid 1B back for a dynamic tandem, one that can stay fresh and effective for the offense enough to ease the pressure on whoever is under center. Teaming Stevenson with a hungry option like Jacobs could lead to big(ger) numbers in a remade Patriots backfield as the team looks to rebuild toward brighter days ahead.

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