What Ezekiel Elliott signing with the Patriots means for Rhamondre Stevenson

Oct 23, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) on the field
Oct 23, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) on the field / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

After much speculation since his visit to New England last month, with even more rumors circulating as late as this morning, Ezekiel Elliott has finally signed a one-year contract with the Patriots for the 2023 season.

It was an expected move, as Bill Belichick's activity in free agency was a sure sign he was hoping to add another running back to the roster to complement Rhamondre Stevenson. Elliott made the most sense of those the head coach had shown interest in, between Elliott, Leonard Fournette, and Darrell Henderson.

There was also a rumored fascination with Dalvin Cook, at least according to the Director of Player Personnel Matt Groh, but nothing ever came of that interest. According to reports, he never visited the Patriots nor had any contact with the team. And not long after Elliott's signing was announced, news broke that Cook was signing within the division, as he got a one-year contract with the New York Jets.

Assuming he will be on the official 53-man roster for the upcoming season, Stevenson finally has the reliable and proven dual-threat back to split snaps with. Considering how much more time he spent on the field last season than Damien Harris, this will allow the third-year player not to wear himself down come late in the year, which appeared to be the case last season.

But what does Elliott's signing mean for Stenvenson's role come September?

It's unlikely much of anything will change. He remains the very clear RB1 and will stay that way despite adding the three-time Pro Bowler. Bringing in another bully ball style back allows Bill O'Brien to change things up on game day and give Stevenson some time on the sidelines.

Elliott is a proven talent in short-yardage situations and has been a better option in the red zone throughout his career. His presence in the lineup gives O'Brien the option to use him more on early downs, allowing Stevenson to continue his increased usage in the passing game.

Additionally, Elliott is excellent in pass protection, something he became known for during his seven years in Dallas. As the Patriots continue going with a questionable offensive line heading into the season, he could become an even more valuable asset for that skill alone, making the rest of his veteran abilities a cherry on top.

The signing of Elliott puts other running backs in New England more in jeopardy than they were just two days ago. With injuries to Ty Montgomery and Pierre Strong Jr., both will be vying to keep their spot on the team, along with Kevin Harris and newly signed C.J. Marable.