In a move that looked like a very un-Belichick one on the surface, the Patriots were the team to finally land former All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott this offseason.
Zeke is actually a great fit in New England though, and the one-year contract makes this a low-risk deal on both sides.
Elliott has looked like a bit of a plodder in recent years, and that really came to a head when he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in 2022. You can sometimes blame that on o-line play, but Tony Pollard averaged 5.2 yards per carry in the same offense. Pollard also averaged nearly twice as many yards per reception (9.5) as Zeke did (5.4).
Elliott did post distinctly different numbers before and after missing two games with a knee injury. He averaged 4.06 yards per carry before (still not great, but better) and then 3.55 after.
This one-year deal says that Zeke thinks he still has plenty left in the tank at 27-years-old. His market value is the lowest its ever been, and a bounce-back year can get him a much better contract in 2024 than he would have been able to command if he wanted a multi-year deal in 2023.
And for the Pats, they’re not committed for the long term if it does turn out that Zeke is washed.
Since Rhamondre Stevenson is the long-term RB1 answer anyway, this is really the ideal scenario for both Elliott and the Pats, and whatever happens next offseason doesn’t change that.
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