The New England Patriots appear to be in the market for a star running back prior to the start of the 2023 NFL season. New England already had taken a look at free agent running back Leonard Fournette, bringing in “Lombardi Lenny” on a free agent visit. Now, they’ve brought another former star running back in for a look.
Former Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was brought in for a look from the Patriots, who are seemingly active and bordering on hellbent on signing a big-name running back in the near future. Not only have the Cowboys had Elliott and Fournette for visits, but they are apparently also interested in free agent and Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook.
The Patriots let Damien Harris leave in free agency and he kind of stuck it to them by signing with the Buffalo Bills. They have Rhamondre Stevenson at the top of the depth chart with guys like Pierre Strong, Ty Montgomery, Kevin Harris, and JJ Taylor waiting in the wings. From the Patriots’ perspective, I’m not really sure that’s a rotation that can get you through a season as much as they are going to want (and need) to run the ball to help Mac Jones be as effective as he can possibly be.
New offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is going to be tasked with reviving an offense that took a major step back last season. Adding another running back to the mix might not be the “missing” piece for the Patriots, per se, but it would represent sort of a rounding out of everything else this team has done to upgrade on that side of the ball this offseason.
Getting O’Brien was massive. Adding Mike Gesicki to the roster at the TE position was a very underrated move. Bringing in JuJu Smith-Schuster didn’t draw a ton of headlines, understandably, but it was a solid move to replace departed free agent Jakobi Meyers.
Adding a veteran running back like Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, or Leonard Fournette would just be another solid move for the Patriots overall, and as the Compound Effect proves, smaller, incremental changes over time can lead to big results. Even if the Patriots are only marginally improved on the roster and substantially improved in the coaching department, it could lead to this team being surprisingly good in 2023.