The New England Patriots weren’t as flashy in free agency as they were last season, but one of their free agent pick-ups could help the team more than people think.
We are just weeks away from the 2018 NFL draft, but I’ll say it right now. Don’t sleep on the addition of running back Jeremy Hill in the New England Patriots backfield.
Coming off an injury-prone season, the LSU product and former 2nd round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals signed the type of “prove it deal” with the Patriots that may just translate into a lot more value than people think.
After losing Dion Lewis to free agency, the Patriots and Hill agreed to a one-year deal that could earn him up to $1.5 million. That type of deal could also mean he could be cut before the season even starts. But, if he has anything left in him, he’ll compete and add to a backfield that currently consists of his former Bengals teammate Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee and Brandon Bolden.
At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Jeremy Hill will certainly not be as elusive as Lewis, but he gives the Patriots a power back who is also capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. Sounds like a bigger version of Gillislee, but Hill has proved to be a capable featured back.
During his 2014 rookie season, he carried the ball 222 times for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns. His production did decline following that season, but when healthy, he proved to be a productive back. Used in a limited role, he could be very productive in New England.
He’ll definitely get the opportunity from Bill Belichick to show he is still capable.
"“He was productive, especially his first two years,” Belichick said of Hill. “This past year, not so much, and he had an injury. A good kid, smart, he’s been productive. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll give him an opportunity and see how it goes.”"
Aren’t these the type of signings that usually turn to gold for the Patriots? Similar to the Dion Lewis signing in 2015, Hill will be out to prove his worth. In doing so, he just may push the best out of Mike Gillislee.
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Depending on if and who the Patriots draft at running back, Jeremy Hill and Gillislee will compete
for the team’s power back role. If Hill comes out of that battle on top, watch out for a productive 2018 season.
If he doesn’t, that means Gillislee has shown something worth moving forward with.
Either way, low risk, high reward.
How many times have we heard that since 2001?
Around the AFC East
Miami Dolphins: For years, Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake has been a thorn in Tom Brady’s side and that trend will continue.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins are in the internal talk stages of extending the five-time Pro Bowler’s contract that is due to be up following the 2018 season.
At 36 years old, Wake may try to take his talents away from South Beach for an opportunity to win with a championship contending team if things continue going south for the Dolphins. Therefore, extending him through 2019 will have to be something both sides want.
Since entering the league in 2009, Cameron Wake has been a steady pass rusher for Miami. As Patriots fans know very well, he is a disruptive force when he gets his motor going.
In all, what the Dolphins ultimately do with Wake will be a telling point in how close or far off the team believes they are in the AFC East.