Why Did the Patriots Sign Ezekiel Elliott?

Why Did the Patriots Sign Ezekiel Elliott?
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When it comes to trying to make his team better, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will leave no stone unturned. While many have assumed that Ezekiel Elliott’s best days are behind him, and the overall sentiment around the running back position as a whole being one of contention, Belichick brings Elliott into the fold with hopes of a resurgence.

How Did Ezekiel Elliott End Up in Foxborough?

Elliott was released by the Dallas Cowboys this offseason after being the lead back in Big D since 2016. While Elliott’s play has tailed off later in his career, it wasn’t the main reason for why Elliott is no longer a Cowboy.

Like most things in the NFL, it starts with money. In 2019, Elliott signed a six-year, $90 million contract with guaranteed money in the first three years of the deal. With the guarantees running out after the 2022 season and his cap number being a whopping $16.4 million for 2023, the Cowboys elected to release the productive running back after seven seasons with the team.

The release gave the Cowboys relief on the salary at a position that many are going away from spending. Dallas also has a young and fresh-legged running back named Tony Pollard to carry the load in the new year. It was a hard locker room move to get rid of Elliott as he was a well-liked and respected leader in the organization, but like the NFL often reminds us — it is a business-first enterprise.

Fast forward to the current day and Elliott is now a member of the Patriots in their well-known running-back-by-committee-approach offense. Elliott gets a second chance, and Belichick gets a proven running back to be a leader in the room to help the younger guys.

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What Elliott Brings to the Patriots

What Zeke does is everything Belichick respects. He is a tough, team-first guy who doesn’t miss games due to injury and prides himself on doing the little things to help his team win. Elliott is a positive locker room presence who many across the league respect and will be doing so on a team-friendly $1.55 million deal.

Elliott is widely viewed as one of the NFL’s best pass-blocking backs. Having that beside Mac Jones is something Belichick absolutely values. Additionally, Elliott is as tough a runner as there is and a reliable option in short-yardage situations.

The Cowboys paid him RB1 money and used him as such, even if his wear and tear dictated that was not the best course of action for him anymore. Elliott is at his best getting around 10 carries a game, where he keeps his legs fresh, maximizes his touches, and stays healthier deep into the season to help his team fight into the playoffs.

What Belichick does better than anyone across the league is find the best use for his players. He sees an older Elliott who has fallen out of favor in his old situation and swoops in, gives him an opportunity to be a part of the Patriot Way, and does so in a financially reasonable manner.

There is no telling what Elliott’s real impact will end up looking like by the end of the year, but one could argue that no situation made more sense for the player and team than this pairing.

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