Poll: What should Pats expect from Zeke Elliott in 2023?
Bill Belichick finally opened his checkbook last night and handed out a 1-year contract to free agent running back Ezekiel Elliott. The former longtime Cowboys back can earn up to $6 million during his season in Foxborough, which includes a $3 million base salary and a $1 million signing bonus.
With most of the narrative around Elliott being that of a washed up RB, whose best days are behind him at the elder age of 28, I was frankly shocked with the amount of positive reactions I scrolled through last night on social media.
The majority of Patriots fans and media members seemed excited by the move. Is that because the Pats rarely add known names at this point of the summer? Maybe. Or, is it that Elliott still has value and can prove to be a key part of this team's offense? I choose to believe the latter.
Listen, the days of Elliott churning out 1400-yard seasons are in the rearview mirror. You'll hear a lot about how he had career lows in yards (876) and yards per attempt (3.8) last season, as he was gently phased out of the Dallas offense in favor of Tony Pollard.
To me, that's irrelevant. Why? Because he's not coming here to be a feature back. He's coming to be the compliment to Rhamondre Stevenson, and in that role, I think Elliott has the potential to excel.
He'll spell Stevenson on early downs. Instead of running Rhamondre between the tackles for a punishing four yards on first down, let Zeke handle it to take some of the wear and tear off Stevenson's legs, which became evident late last year.
He's a force in short yardage situations as well, as Tom E. Curran noted on Twitter, or X, or whatever we're supposed to call it these days:
- In 2022, Elliott ranked 9th in the NFL in converting on 3rd & short (77.2% - 5th-best among RB’s), he was 4th in the NFL in converting rushes inside the 10 to TD’s (10 TD on 24 attempts), he scored TD’s on 8-of-11 carries inside the 3-yard line, and he hasn’t fumbled since 2020 (468 carries).
Not to mention, he has the capability to catch the ball out of the backfield. From 2018-21, Elliott totaled 77 receptions, 54 receptions, 52 receptions and 47 receptions per season, respectively.
Will Elliott have a Corey Dillon-type impact at the position for this year's team? Of course not. But I'm choosing to believe, or maybe it's just my relentless Pats bias, that there's enough left in Zeke's tank for Bill O'Brien to make use of.