All summer, we've heard that the Patriots were looking to bolster their running back situation in light of Damien Harris going to the Buffalo Bills. Some weeks ago, Ezekiel Elliott made his way up to Foxborough for a workout, then was seen out at dinner in the Seaport with Mac Jones, sitting next to each other instead of across from each other, which was jarring, but I digress.
That multi-day stay in Massachusetts clearly went well because the former Dallas Cowboy announced on Monday afternoon that he's indeed signed with the New England Patriots. The former two-time league-leading rusher's one-year deal is an incentive-laden $6,000,000 pact. Additionally, this gives him his preferred spot playing under Bill Belichick and more importantly, gives him a shot to get back at good ole Jerry Jones just four weeks into the regular season.
Feed Zeke (At the Goaline)
Even just casually watching Cowboys' games over the last couple of years, it's not hard to tell Zeke has accumulated a ton of wear and tear. He's averaged at least 15 carries per game six times in seven seasons and over 20 in each of his first three. Not to mention that Zeke's yards per carry numbers have steadily declined over the last five seasons from 4.7 to 3.8. There are a few more stats that ultimately drive this point home, but Elliott isn't that superstar running back he was his opening few years in the league and hasn't been for at least a few seasons now.
What Zeke Elliott is, however, is a guy who understands pass protection at the running back position (outside of when he's at center, of course), is a reliable enough receiving option, and someone who can give you valuable touches in short yardage situations, more so down by the goal line. Not to mention Zeke has been significantly better at protecting the ball lately. After opening his career with 21 fumbles in five seasons, he has just one since 2021.
Back to what Zeke can give to the Patriots, he's put up 22 touchdowns on the ground these last two seasons. Every single one came from inside the red zone, and breaking that down further, 11 came from the one-yard line, 16 from inside the five. (2022 TD runs from inside the 10 and 15 below)
While he's certainly capable of breaking off some decent chunks of yards every once in a while, it's not something that should be expected. With that said, Zeke still has the vision, patience, and just enough burst to be a formidable option behind Rhamondre Stevenson in a role similar to what Damien Harris was in last season. Zeke's knack for making stuff happen in and around the goal line is simply a bonus. He, along with Mondre being, well, Mondre, plus Pierre Strong in the James White role, is a great situation.
I had an entire thing ready to go about how you should expect a Dalvin Cook signing to come relatively soon, likely with either the Dolphins or the Jets. Apparently, I was a bit too literal, as the former multi-time Pro Bowler just came to terms on a deal with the New York Jets. No matter who signed first between Cook and Elliott, the other was going to find a landing spot sooner or later, but yeah, that's a great get for the Jets. A better fit for him than Miami, in my opinion.
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