Top 5 running back acquisitions by the Patriots since 2000

Super Bowl XXXIX - New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles
Super Bowl XXXIX - New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

Patriots fans have reason to be excited now that running back Ezekiel Elliott has been signed, giving the team a dynamic duo of Elliott and Rhamondre Stevenson. The signing is also something new for fans as the team has generally not had to rely on acquiring running backs due to their success in drafting the position.

Here are the Patriots' top five running back acquisitions since Bill Belichick took over in 2000.

1. Corey Dillon, acquired in 2004 trade with Cincinnati

43 games 753 carries 3,180 yards (4.2) 37 TD 52 receptions 431 yards 2 TD

Coming off of their second Super Bowl win in three seasons, Belichick looked at the roster and knew that the running back position could be upgraded and acquired Dillon in a trade from the Bengals.

In his first season in New England, Dillon rushed for a team single-season record 1,635 yards helping the team win their third Lombardi trophy. Named to the AFC Pro Bowl team, Dillon added 292 yards and two touchdowns during the playoff run.

While he failed to top 1,000 yards in his other two seasons as a Patriot, Dillon never failed to register fewer than 12 rushing touchdowns in any of his three seasons with the team. His 37 rushing touchdowns rank third in team history.

2. Antowain Smith, signed as free agent in 2001

45 G 721 carries 2,781 yards (3.9) 21 TD 64 receptions 527 yards 3 TD

Signed as a free agent after four seasons in Buffalo, Smith gave the Patriots a lead back they hadn't had in three seasons after the injury to Robert Edwards.

In his first season as a Patriot, Smith ran for a career-high 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns as the team captured its first Super Bowl. He narrowly missed a second-straight 1,000-yard season in 2002 (982 yards) before missing time in 2003 with an injury.

However, Smith saved his best for last as he tallied 100 yards rushing in the AFC Championship Game against Indianapolis and helped the team win a second Super Bowl with 83 yards and a touchdown against Carolina.

3. LeGarrette Blount, acquired in 2013 trade with Tampa Bay and signed as free agent in 2014

49 G 677 carries 2,917 yards (4.3) 34 TD 19 receptions 137 yards 1 TD

Blount has the distinction of being acquired by the Patriots twice: once via trade and the other after being waived by Pittsburgh after walking off the field.

Blount's best year in New England came during the 2016 season, as he rushed for a career-high 1,161 yards and a league-leading 18 touchdowns. He never rushed for fewer than 700 yards in any of his full seasons as a Patriot but was at his best during the playoffs. In eight playoff games as a Patriot, Blount ran for eight touchdowns and 450 yards.

4. Dion Lewis, signed to Future/Reserve contract in 2014

30 G 293 carries 1,413 yards (4.8) 8 TD 85 Receptions 696 yards 5 TD

After being cut twice to start his NFL career, the Patriots signed Lewis to a Futures contract at the end of the 2014 season.

Lewis got off to a hot start as a receiving back in the 2015 season (36 receptions in seven games) before tearing his ACL in a win over Washington. Lewis returned for the second half of the 2016 season and was instrumental in their Divisional Round win over Houston with a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown, and kick return touchdown.

Lewis led the team in rushing with 896 yards in 2017, and his 1,110 total yards from scrimmage were a career-high.

5. Sammy Morris, signed as a free agent in 2007

47 G 334 carries 1,486 yards (4.4) 12 TD 49 receptions 452 yards 0 TD

After Dillon left following the 2006 season, the Patriots signed Sammy Morris from the Dolphins to help replace his production on the ground, and in the first six games, Morris rushed for 384 yards and three touchdowns before suffering a season-ending injury which hurt the team in their pursuit of 19-0.

Morris returned to have a career-best year in 2008 when he led the team with 727 yards and seven touchdowns before returning to a reserve role during his last two seasons in New England.