Rhamondre Stevenson

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.

Patriots, RB Rhamondre Stevenson Nearing Extension Agreement?

For the past two seasons, Rhamondre Stevenson has served as the Patriots’ lead running back. That is set to continue in 2024, and it could remain the case beyond that point.

When speaking to the media on Monday, Stevenson said (via Mike Giardi of the Boston Sports Journal) he “feels like” an extension is coming soon. While that falls short of confirmation positive talks on that front have taken place, it is nevertheless an indication team and player have a mutual desire to hammer out a deal. One year remains on Stevenson’s rookie contract.

The former fourth-rounder had an encouraging rookie season with 729 scrimmage yards and five rushing touchdowns. He followed that up in 2022 with career highs in carries (210), yards (1,040) and efficiency (5.0 yards per attempt). Last offseason saw the arrival of Ezekiel Elliott as an experienced backup option.

Stevenson suffered a high ankle sprain which led to a season-ending IR stint at the end of the campaign, one in which little (if anything) went according to plan on offense for New England. Elliott has reunited with the Cowboys though, paving the way for Stevenson to once again serve as lead back. The addition of Antonio Gibson in free agency will give New England a new pass-catching option, but Stevenson can be expected to log a notable workload in 2024.

The Oklahoma product is due $3.12MM this campaign, but a long-term deal would carry a higher value than that. The running back position has not taken off like others in recent years, though the 2024 offseason saw teams move quickly in signing the many veterans on the market. General manager Eliot Wolf and head coach Jerod Mayo represent a different regime than the one which drafted Stevenson, but they could be positioned to make him part of the Patriots’ core beyond 2024.

New England has quarterback Drake Maye attached to his rookie contract for years to come, and none of the team’s offensive skill position players are on a deal carrying an AAV above $9MM. Plenty of funds will therefore be available if the Patriots do indeed proceed with a Stevenson extension.

Patriots Place RB Rhamondre Stevenson On IR

The Patriots added to their defense on Wednesday by claiming cornerback Marco Wilson off waivers from the Cardinals. The corresponding move will leave the team’s offense shorthanded, however.

New England placed running back Rhamondre Stevenson on injured reserve, confirming that he will not return this season. The Patriots have only a pair of games remaining in what has been an underwhelming 2023 campaign, and IR stints are guaranteed to be at least four weeks in length. Stevenson has missed the past three contests, and with the team out of contention is comes as little surprise he will not see the field again.

Stevenson suffered a high ankle sprain in the Patriots’ loss to the Chargers earlier this month, an injury which has now officially put an end to his third season with the team. The former fourth-rounder entered the year with high expectations coming off a 1,000-yard campaign the season prior. Splitting time with veteran Ezekiel Elliott, Stevenson saw his yards per carry drop one full yard in 2023 (from five to four) when on the field.

In spite of that, along with the missed time, the 25-year-old still leads the team in rushing with 619 yards and four touchdowns. Stevenson added 38 catches for 238 yards in the passing game, demonstrating his two-way value and his status as a focal point of New England’s offense. That unit has struggled mightily both with and without him in the lineup, but his absence will be felt to close out the campaign.

With Stevenson out of the picture, the Patriots will continue to lean heavily on Elliott. The latter has received 45 carries in the last three games, scoring a pair of receiving touchdowns in the process. On a one-year deal following the end of his Cowboys tenure, Elliott could help his market value late in the year by continuing to shoulder a starter’s workload. Stevenson, meanwhile, will be eligible for an extension this offseason.

Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson Facing Multi-Week Absence

The Patriots’ offense has endured major struggles in recent weeks in particular, and the team’s top producer is now in line to miss time. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson is expected to miss multiple weeks due to a high ankle sprain, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Stevenson exited New England’s 6-0 loss to the Chargers in the first quarter and did not return. Today’s update will no doubt sideline him for at least the team’s upcoming Thursday night game against the Steelers, and any additional missed time will deal a blow the the Patriots’ ground game. Stevenson comfortably leads New England with 619 rushing yards.

The 25-year-old has also logged a team-leading 38 receptions as the Patriots have struggled mightily to generate a consistent passing attack. Stevenson has recorded 238 yards through the air while scoring four touchdowns on the ground. His absence will interrupt his third season with the team (and second as the clear-cut lead back) while forcing New England to rely heavily on Ezekiel Elliott for the time being.

The latter joined the Patriots after a lengthy free agent period which came about from his long-expected Cowboys release. Elliott’s incentive-laden deal set him up for a backup role on a team which (even before experiencing the quarterback uncertainty which has transpired) was expected to use a run-heavy approach. The former rushing champion has posted 429 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 112 attempts, good for an average of 3.8 yards per carry. The latter figure figure sits only slightly lower than Stevenson’s, but Elliott will now be tasked with a larger workload than he has previously handled this season.

The three-time Pro Bowler logged a season-high 17 carries on Sunday after Stevenson went down. After New England received some interest in Elliott in advance of the trade deadline, no serious negotiations took place and he remained with the Patriots as a result. Receiving an extended RB1 look late in the year could help Elliott boost his free agent stock ahead of the offseason. The missed time for Stevenson, on the other hand, could hurt his value on a new deal, something he will be eligible for this spring.

New England has mustered only 13 points across the past three games, as the team has struggled through poor quarterback play with both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe under center. Regardless of which passer suits up on Thursday, they will not have the benefit of a healthy backfield.

AFC Injury Roundup: Steelers, Stevenson, Titans

This has been a typical rally year for the Steelers. Anytime things look less than ideal in a season for Pittsburgh, the team tends to pick things up and lead head coach Mike Tomlin to yet another winning season. They have done so this year as a bend-but-don’t-break defense has buoyed a struggling offense to a 7-5 record. That task will likely be getting a bit more difficult with the injury news concerning starting quarterback Kenny Pickett.

According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, Pickett sustained a right ankle injury while trying to push for the endzone today and was forced to sit out the remainder of the game. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the injury is “not good” and that Pickett “will be out for an extended period.”

Pickett was replaced in today’s loss by backup quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky was able to score a touchdown in relief of Pickett but was unable to lead the team to victory after inheriting a tie game on the one-yard line. Tomlin made it clear that if Pickett is unable to go, which if Dulac is correct sounds like it will be the case, Trubisky will serve as the team’s starter.

With the Steelers facing a short week before hosting the Patriots, Pickett likely won’t have time to make a quick comeback, especially if the injury is “not good.” Expect Trubisky to lead the Pittsburgh offense this Thursday night.

Here are a few other injury updates from around the AFC, starting with another note from the Steel City:

  • Steelers starting safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who returned to the field today for the first time since October, was forced to leave the game for a period with a broken left hand, per Pryor. The break reportedly kept him from being able to grab the football, but he was able to cast and wrap the hand during the game’s two weather delays and finish the game with the injury. If the team feels it’s safe, Fitzpatrick may not need to miss any additional time as he can simply play with the cast, as he did today.
  • Speaking of the Thursday night turnaround, the Patriots are in danger of having to face the Steelers without starting running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson reportedly sprained his ankle today, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and will undergo an MRI in order to determine how long he may be sidelined. Even if it’s a fairly minor sprain, the short week looms large for his availability. Backup rusher Ezekiel Elliott could find himself in a bigger role or even starting in Pittsburgh this coming week.
  • The Titans saw two players suffer scary knee injuries in today’s loss to the Colts. The two players who went down were star defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and backup tight end Josh Whyle. While the injuries were enough to sideline each player for a bit, beat writer Paul Kuharsky confirms that neither injury is season-ending.

Pats Notes: Mapu, RB, Ryland, Cunningham

We’ve already written a bit about Patriots third-round pick Marte Mapu out of Sacramento State and his dual ability to play both linebacker and safety, a role he played in college. We had a feeling that the Patriots would see that ability and likely play him in the same role, and it looks like that may be exactly what they’re planning to do. They have him officially listed as a linebacker on their roster, but according to Doug Kyed of A to Z Sports, they have been utilizing him lately to fill the void left by former safety Devin McCourty, who retired back in March.

The Patriots are no strangers to experimenting with young players and moving them around the field. Mapu gives them a perfect opportunity to do just that. At only 216 pounds, Mapu is a bit too light to be a perfect fit at linebacker. In Sacramento, he played mostly an in-between role in the slot before lining up at linebacker in the Senior Bowl. At his first OTA practice in New England, he played linebacker; in the two practices after that, McCourty’s old safety role.

Not only does he feel comfortable playing both roles, but his teammates are also under the impression that the adjustment from FCS to NFL is coming easy to Mapu, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. His flexibility and progression have combined to earn him first-team snaps extremely early in his career, as reported by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

Here are a few more rumors coming out of Foxborough:

  • After releasing James Robinson earlier this week, the Patriots may be looking to add another body to the position room, according to Karen Guregian of MassLive. The team will run with Rhamondre Stevenson as their No. 1 next year, no question, but the names behind him don’t inspire much confidence. Pierre Strong, Kevin Harris, and Ty Montgomery combined for 150 rushing yards last year. Strong and Montgomery are reportedly in the running to compete for a third down back role with Harris potentially slotting in as RB2, but one has to imagine the Patriots are considering their options. Obviously, Dalvin Cook is available, but if they’d like to pursue someone more used to working with another rusher, Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, and Kenyan Drake are interesting names to look out for.
  • New England spent two draft picks on specialists this year, drafting Maryland kicker Chad Ryland in the fourth round and Michigan State punter Bryce Baringer in the sixth. Despite demonstrating the commitment to spend draft capital on the two, Guregian asserts that neither is a lock to replace the incumbent specialists, Nick Folk and Corliss Waitman. Guregian expects a heavy competition for both kicking jobs but doesn’t rule out the possibility of the losers of those battles landing on the team’s practice squad.
  • Former Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham was highly sought after when he went undrafted this year. The Patriots landed his talents thanks to a deal that included $200K in guaranteed money. The money might not have been the only factor in Cunningham choosing New England as his professional destination, though. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Cunningham told the media that “the Patriots were the only team before the draft to work him out at (wide receiver).” He’s listed as a quarterback on the team’s roster, but perhaps working him out at receiver gave Cunningham the impression that he would have more playing opportunities or a higher chance to make the 53-man roster.

Patriots Notes: Wynn, RBs, Thornton

The Patriots are reportedly open to trading OT Isaiah Wynn, who has been moved from left tackle to right tackle this year after lining up exclusively on the blindside over his first few seasons in the NFL (aside from a 2020 cameo at LG and some training camp work at RT as a rookie). As expected, however, outside interest in the former first-rounder is limited at this point, as Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets.

Although Wynn did play in 16 regular season contests in 2021, he comes with an extensive injury history. He is also tethered to a $10.4MM salary for 2022 since New England exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal, and at least some teams consider him a tackle-guard “tweener.” All of that suggests that the Pats — who must also consider the injury history of LT Trent Brown and the underwhelming training camp performances of backups Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste — may not fetch a high enough return to pull the trigger.

Now for more out of Foxborough:

  • Per Mike Giardi of the NFL Network, Brown was not told he would be lining up at left tackle when he re-signed with the Patriots this offseason (Twitter link). The 29-year-old has taken all of his snaps on the right side of the line since 2019, and one wonders if he would have signed the contract, which pays him $6.5MM per year over the next two years, if he had known he would be playing a premium position. Giardi also tweets that Wynn — perhaps as a result of a position switch in his platform year — is not a “happy camper,” so there is plenty of intrigue surrounding the team’s OL bookends in 2022.
  • As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, Patriots running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris will be part of a timeshare this year, but as opposed to 2021, they are more likely to remain on the field on third downs. In light of James White‘s retirement, New England is unlikely to have a defined “passing down back,” and that is especially true in the wake of the ankle injury that Ty Montgomery suffered during the team’s preseason finale on Friday. Reiss notes in a separate piece that Montgomery seemed like a roster lock as a third option behind Stevenson and Harris, and the Pats are still awaiting word on the severity of his injury.
  • On Monday, rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton underwent surgery to repair his fractured clavicle, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. It was previously reported that Thornton is expected to return to the field sometime in October, and the six-to-eight-week recovery timeline that Fowler provides jibes with that report.
  • The injury that landed rookie OL Andrew Stueber on the reserve/NFI list is a torn hamstring, as Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports (via Twitter). Stueber sustained the injury while training after the draft, and it could sideline him for his entire rookie season.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 12/29/21

Several key players returned to practice Wednesday. Here are the latest COVID-19 updates from around the league:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Rico Bussey

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/24/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed on or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances, players activated from the list remain on IR:

Baltimore Ravens

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: S Chuck Clark, C Trystan Colon
  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: RB Nate McCrary
  • Placed on practice squad/COVID-19 list: QB Chris Streveler

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: DB Jordan Fuller, TE Tyler Higbee
  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: OL Cole Williamson

Miami Dolphins

  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: RB Gerrid Doaks

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: RB Travis Homer
  • Activated from practice squad/COVID-19 list: OL Pier-Olivier Lestage

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Patriots’ Damien Harris Out For Week 10

The Patriots will be without their starting running back against the Browns, and they may be down multiple backs. New England ruled out Damien Harris for Week 10.

Harris is in the Patriots’ concussion protocol after leaving last week’s game. He did not practice this week. While entering the weekend with a questionable designation, Harris will be shelved for at least a game because of his head injury.

This will mean both the run-oriented Patriots and Browns squads will be without their starting backs Sunday. The Pats also have listed Rhamondre Stevenson as questionable due to his status in the protocol. The rookie also sustained a concussion against the Panthers and did not practice this week, but the Pats remain hopeful he can play in the key AFC matchup.

Sunday’s game will nevertheless feature depleted backfields. The Browns have seen COVID-19 reduce theirs essentially to ex-Alliance of American Football performer D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland’s only active-roster back that did not test positive for COVID-19 this week. Chubb, Demetric Felton and John Kelly did test positive and are out this week. Kareem Hunt remains without a firm return timetable from his calf injury, but the standout backup might be down until December.

As for the Patriots, they have the likes of Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor healthy. Harris, however, has gained 547 rushing yards — 400-plus more than the Pats’ second-leading rusher — and scored seven touchdowns in a breakthrough season.