Patriots Host RB Ezekiel Elliott

6:25: Elliott departed the Patriots’ facility without a deal in place, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). He adds that interest exists on both sides, however, which is corroborated by The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. The latter tweets that Elliott discussed contract terms with New England today, adding that the two-time rushing champion is likely close to deciding on his next destination. Since they also have interest in Elliott, the Jets could be a player in this situation, Howe notes, depending on how they fare in the Cook sweepstakes. Both veteran backs could find new homes in the very near future.

9:22am: The Patriots have been connected to a number of free agent running backs, and now the team is set to host one of the biggest remaining names on the market. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter), Ezekiel Elliott will visit New England today. Jordan Schultz was first with the news (via Twitter).

Elliott hasn’t generated a whole lot of reported interest since getting cut by the Cowboys earlier this offseason. He was briefly connected to the Eagles, Bengals, and Jets, but obviously no deal materialized. There were also rumors that he could simply land back in Dallas, but it sounds like the Cowboys want to evaluate their in-house options before making any additional moves at the position.

Despite starting 14 of his 15 games in 2022, Elliott struggled running the ball. His 3.8 yards-per-rushing-attempt marked a career-low, and despite generating 231 carries, he also finished with a career-low 876 rushing yards. On the flip side, the veteran RB proved that he’s still got a nose for the end zone, scoring 12 touchdowns.

The 28-year-old is only a year removed from his last 1,000-yard rushing season, and while he’ll probably never come close to replicating his 77-catch season in 2018, he still averaged 51 catches per season between 2019 and 2021. Plus, Elliott proved that he can still be effective in other parts of the game, with the running back earning the second-best positional grade for run blocking, per Pro Football Focus. In other words, while Elliott certainly started to show signs of decline last season, it might be a bit too early to write him off entirely.

Rhamondre Stevenson topped 1,400 yards from scrimmage for the Patriots in 2022, and with Damien Harris having left for Buffalo, the third-year back should see an even bigger role in 2023. However, behind Stevenson, the Patriots lack experienced depth. The team does have pass-catching veteran Ty Montgomery (who suffered an injury during practice this week, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Twitter), but the team is otherwise eyeing backup options like 2022 fourth-round pick Pierre Strong, 2022 sixth-round pick Kevin Harris, and former UDFA J.J. Taylor.

That lack of depth could explain why the organization has been connected to a number of free agent running backs. Most notably, the Patriots have been mentioned as a potential suitor for Dalvin Cook, although it remains to be seen if they’d pay the Pro Bowler his desired salary. The Patriots also recently hosted veteran free agents Leonard Fournette and Darrell Henderson.

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