The New England Patriots added to their running back depth with the signing of former Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill.
Following the loss of their 2017 leading rusher Dion Lewis to free agency, the Patriots agreed to a one-year deal with Hill who is coming off a down year with the Bengals. In fact, he rushed for just 116 yards and no touchdowns in seven games before going down with a season-ending ankle injury.
Following his first three seasons in the NFL, in which he averaged 919 yards per season, the Bengals 2014 second-round pick admitted that bone spurs building up in his ankle was the reason for his decline since rushing for 1,124 yards in his rookie season in Cincinnati. Thus, it was his decision to end his season early to have surgery on the ankle.
"“I had some bone spurs build up in my ankle the past few years, just from rolling it, playing through it,” Hill said in an interview with Cincinnati.com. “I rolled it in practice (leading up to Jacksonville) and it just wasn’t the same. Just couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. At that point in the season, they decided to go forward with Joe [Mixon] and my people, my family and myself, we just thought it would be best for me to have surgery and make sure I’m good to go going forward, putting my career over this season. That was a decision that I felt was best for me going forward and that’s what I did.”"
Now, Jeremy Hill has the chance to regain his power in a Patriots backfield of former Bengals teammate Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, James White and Brandon Bolden. Out of that group. Hill is the true power back who could give the team similar production to that of LeGarrette Blount.
While not as elusive as the other backs or even Blount, his 30 touchdowns in 47 games makes him a viable force in short yardage situations and at the goal line. The key of course will be his health.
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The Patriots may not get the 2014 version of Jeremy Hill, but if they get anything close to the running back he was in 2015 or 2016, this will be one of those under-the-radar moves that helps the New England Patriots make another deep playoff run.
Around the AFC East
New York Jets: After losing out on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, the New York Jets officially announced the signing of Teddy Bridgewater on Sunday.
Bridgewater, who missed the entire 2016 season with a dislocated ankle and ACL tear, led the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs in just his second year in the season. While he could just serve as a bridge to whichever quarterback the Jets select in the 2018 NFL Draft, the 25-year-old quarterback is excited about the next chapter in his professional career.
"“I’m excited about the direction we’re headed in,” Bridgewater said, via Newyorkjets.com. “I’m excited to be a part of something that can be very special and I just look forward to getting to work with the guys and a great year.”"
If Teddy Bridgewater finds his way in New York, the Jets could be a surprising team in the AFC East, especially with the talent they have on the defensive side of the ball.