Patriots, Rhamondre Stevenson Progressing On Extension

The Bill Belichick-run Patriots operation did not place considerable value on the running back position. A few New England regulars received their paydays elsewhere during the legendary coach/GM’s stay. As the team transitions to an Eliot Wolf-led front office, it appears they are at least giving strong consideration to extending their starting RB.

Rhamondre Stevenson confirmed this by indicating he viewed an extension as close, and while the deal is not done, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe notes the sides are making progress (subscription required). Although an extension could be on the horizon, the 2021 fourth-round pick remains in a contract year.

New England did prioritize the pass-catching RB position during Tom Brady‘s tenure, forging long-running partnerships with Kevin Faulk and James White. Though, the team did not retain Danny Woodhead or Shane Vereen in between. Stevan Ridley also left New England after his rookie contract. Ditto BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Damien Harris, though Stevenson had effectively usurped the latter by the time his rookie deal expired. LeGarrette Blount left for Pittsburgh but returned on a low-cost deal. Corey Dillon provided an exception, being extended (five years, $17.5MM) early in Belichick’s tenure.

The NFL’s RB landscape has changed considerably since that Dillon deal (2005). Christian McCaffrey‘s recent extension (two years, $38MM) topped his own position-record number, which had stood since April 2020. Most of the teams who rostered a high-priced RB as of 2023 have moved on from that player or agreed to a pay cut. The past several months have provided some hope for impact backs, with the likes of Jonathan Taylor and Saquon Barkley scoring more than $26MM guaranteed in total. Stevenson, however, has not shown himself to be on that tier. That will make extension numbers — should they indeed emerge — interesting to view.

Excluding All-Pro-level backs and the host of veterans who signed one-year deals this offseason, the contracts given to D’Andre Swift and Tony Pollard may prove relevant to the Patriots-Stevenson negotiations. The Bears gave Swift a three-year, $24MM deal that includes $14MM guaranteed in full. The Titans’ Pollard deal is less player-friendly, covering three years and $21.75MM and guaranteeing the five-year Cowboy $10.49MM at signing.

Despite coming into the NFL a year later, Stevenson (26) is a year older than Swift. He showed considerable promise in a poor Patriots offense in 2022 by totaling 1,461 scrimmage yards. He ranked ninth in Next Gen Stats’ rushing yards over expected metric that season. Being asked to play alongside Ezekiel Elliott last year, Stevenson took a step back (857 scrimmage yards) and missed the final five games of the season with a high ankle sprain. Considering Stevenson’s resume, David MontgomeryMiles Sanders territory (in the $6MM AAV range) may apply as the Patriots consider a second-contract compromise.

You know, we’ll see,” Jerod Mayo said of an extension, via the Boston Sports Journal’s Mike Giardi. “I will say this about Rhamondre: I think he’s one of the better backs in the league, no doubt about it. I think over the last few years, it’s been kind of tough on him, as far as getting started. So, I’m excited to see what he does this season. And look, he’s earned everything that he gets. He is our starting running back, and hopefully, we do get something done.”

The Pats added pass-catching back Antonio Gibson on a three-year, $11.25MM deal that includes $5.3MM guaranteed up front. Stevenson’s second contract will come in above that place, but it is worth wondering how much higher this new Pats regime will go for the fourth-year back. Wolf has made a point to reward in-house players this offseason, re-signing the likes of Michael Onwenu, Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche and Kendrick Bourne. It looks like Stevenson will have the chance to stay in Foxborough beyond 2024, though some work remains.

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