Why Did the Patriots Sign Ezekiel Elliott? RB Now in Starting Role After Rhamondre Stevenson’s Injury

With Rhamondre Stevenson out for Thursday Night Football in Week 14, Ezekiel Elliott will be the starting RB. Why did New England sign the former Cowboy?

The New England Patriots are one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2023. Sitting at 2-10, the Patriots are nearing playoff elimination.

Amidst the struggles, starting running back Rhamondre Stevenson suffered a high-ankle sprain during the team’s 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13. This injury thrust Ezekiel Elliott into the spotlight once again. Why did New England sign Elliott?

Why Was Ezekiel Elliott Signed By the New England Patriots?

The Patriots signed Ezekiel Elliott on Aug. 16, 2023, marking Elliott’s eighth season in the NFL. Elliott was drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He spent his entire career with Dallas before this season.

Elliott attended Ohio State University, where he spent three seasons creating a legacy. In that span, he rushed for 3,961 yards and 43 touchdowns on 592 attempts. He was named the 2015 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

In his seven seasons with the Cowboys, Elliott rushed for 8,262 yards and 68 touchdowns. He also added 2,336 yards and 12 touchdowns on 305 receptions. The 28-year-old was released by Dallas on March 15, 2023. Elliott’s production had slowed down in his final season with the team and they opted to go with Tony Pollard as the lead back.

Elliott had signed a six-year, $90 million contract with the Cowboys in September of 2019. Before his extension, he had held out in an attempt to maximize his earnings. When he signed with New England, Elliott signed a one-year, $3 million contract. It included a $600,000 signing bonus and $1.1 million guaranteed.

MORE: New England Patriots Depth Chart

This season, Elliott has 112 carries for 429 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, he has 24 receptions for 154 more yards. In Week 14 — and potentially beyond — Elliott will be starting in place of Stevenson. In 12 games this season, Stevenson rushed for 619 yards and four touchdowns on 156 carries. He added 38 receptions for 238 yards.

It is unknown how long Stevenson will be out, but it isn’t out of the equation that he could be shut down for the season. Boston Sports Journal’s Mike Giardi reported on his injury.

“First, I can confirm per team sources that Rhamondre Stevenson suffered a high-ankle sprain,” said Giardi. “That injury typically takes three weeks or so to recover. There’s already chatter that the Pats should shut him down for the rest of the season. Someone close to Stevenson told me, ‘If he can find a way to be out there, he will. He won’t let his brothers down. That’s not who he is.’”

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