Ezekiel Elliott Breaks RB Logjam

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For a couple of months, the NFL masses awaited free-agent landing spots for high-profile running backs like Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt, and Leonard Fournette.

Well, one domino fell on Monday afternoon, as former Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott landed with the New England Patriots.

Ezekiel Elliott Breaks RB Logjam

Elliott tweeted on the X app, “One Five, all the way live! @Patriots.”

The tweet indicated his new jersey number 15 and a fresh start for his career’s second chapter in New England.

Ezekiel Elliott Breaks
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter followed the Elliott tweet with financial details, “Compensation update: Zeke Elliott’s one-year deal with the Patriots includes a $3 million base salary, a $1 million signing bonus and can be worth up to $6 million with incentives.”

Instantly, Elliott joins a Patriots RB room that will look like this, at least until roster cuts on August 29th:

  • Rhamondre Stevenson
  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Ty Montgomery
  • Pierre Strong Jr.
  • Kevin Harris
  • J.J. Taylor
  • CJ Marable
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The Patriots sounded tangibly interested in former Viking Dalvin Cook in late July and were the Vegas frontrunners to sign the 28-year-old. New England’s Director of Player Personnel, Matt Groh, was asked about Cook’s chances of landing with the Patriots for 2023, and he didn’t rule it out, “You don’t see guys of this talent available at this time of the year. It’s a unique situation.”

But New England evidently backed off that plan, preferring Elliott, whose resume includes three Pro Bowls and three All-Pro Team nods.

Any Lingering Kirk
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Elliott’s production has tended to dip each year since becoming a Cowboy, evidenced by his yards per carry. Here’s the YPC resume per season over the last eight:

  • 2016 = 5.1
  • 2017 = 4.1
  • 2018 = 4.7
  • 2019 = 4.5
  • 2020 = 4.0
  • 2021 = 4.2
  • 2022 = 3.8

He’ll hope to rekindle the production from 2019 and before, although most halfbacks do not as they venture into their late 20s. Elliott, 28, has tabulated 8,262 rushing yards in 103 games, or an 80.2 per-game average. He’s also scored 80 touchdowns in his career.

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New England ranked 21st via rushing DVOA last year and 24th in rushing yards per game. Elliott should help rectify that stat if he can turn the clock back a bit.

The Elliott move also likely ends the Dalvin Cook Sweepstakes for New England; the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins remain at the top of the Cook rumor mill, with the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, and Denver Broncos also in the theoretical conversation.

Elliott and Cook were born 19 days apart.

The aforementioned Kareem Hunt conducted a free-agent visit with the Vikings last week.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.