The Patriots had two running backs in for a visit - one should absolutely be signed

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

With two roster spots left to fill before training camp starts next week, the Patriots were doing their due diligence on Wednesday by having running backs Leonard Fournette and Darrell Henderson in for visits.

This isn't the first time Fournette has visited New England as a free agent, as he also met with the team last offseason. But things are different this time because the running back requested his release from the Bucs after Tom Brady's retirement earlier this year.

Since then, not much has been heard about teams requesting visits with him, likely because of his down season in 2022. But even in what is considered a "subpar year" for him, Fournette was a reliable option both on the ground and as a receiver.

Through 16 games, he totaled 189 carries for 668 yards and three touchdowns and added 73 receptions for 523 yards and three more touchdowns for a total of 1,191 on the year.

Usually, that would be considered a pretty good season for most dual-threat running backs, making it more impressive that it's said to be the opposite for Fournette.

Although the Patriots are betting favorites to sign free agent Dalvin Cook, having Fournette in for a visit makes a bit more sense, given how they run their offense and how seamlessly he would fit into it.

Rhamondre Stevenson is the apparent RB1, and because of the current lack of reliable depth at the position, adding a seasoned veteran like Fournette would be a great decision, especially as a player likely looking to take on less responsibility within an offense.

He could help support Stevenson after a season spent carrying most of the load out of the backfield, 66% of total snaps compared to Damien Harris' 35%, and also take the pressure off him as the primary receiving back.

Of course, there is still some assessing to do of the younger running backs they have entering their second season with the team; Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong Jr. Both were limited in their involvement last year but did see some time on the field sporadically throughout.

If Belichick doesn't feel comfortable heading into the season with them as the backups to Stevenson, adding a guy like Fournette shouldn't be out of the question.

Although it was said he left New England without a contract, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the team would remain in contact with the running back and may extend an offer during training camp if not before.