FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Free agent running back Ezekiel Elliott posted on social media Monday that he is signing with the New England Patriots.
Elliott tweeted, “One Five, all the way live ! @Patriots,” referencing his plans to wear jersey No. 15, the number he wore in college while playing for Ohio State. He wore No. 21 with the Cowboys.
Elliott agreed to terms with the Patriots on a one-year deal, helping address one of the thinnest positions on the roster, a source confirmed to ESPN. Elliott’s one-year deal with the Patriots includes a $3 million base salary and a $1 million signing bonus that can be worth up to $6 million with incentives, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Elliott, who spent the first seven years of his career with Dallas, projects as a top complement to No. 1 option Rhamondre Stevenson.
The Patriots have traditionally split the early down workload between two running backs under coach Bill Belichick, who spoke directly to Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones for insight and evaluation of the former two-time NFL rushing champion before hosting him on a visit July 29, a source told ESPN’s Ed Werder.
It was Elliott’s first visit with a team since his release. He later dined with Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, among others, and kept an open dialogue with team officials.
NFL Network first reported the agreement with Elliott.
Elliott, who was released by the Cowboys on March 15 in a salary cap move, had a career-low 876 rushing yards in 2022, but he scored 12 touchdowns and remained a top short-yardage back and pass protector. However, he averaged 3.9 yards per touch last season, the worst mark among 51 running backs that had at least 100 touches, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The Patriots will visit the Cowboys this season Sunday, Oct. 1, in Week 4.
The Patriots’ lack of depth at running back has been notable during training camp. Stevenson has been backed up by second-year players Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris, but Strong — a 2022 fourth-round draft pick out of South Dakota State — has been out of practice for undisclosed reasons the last two days. Also, veteran Ty Montgomery has been sidelined by a left leg/knee injury sustained in the second practice of camp. Third-year player J.J Taylor and former USFL rusher C.J. Marable round out the depth chart.
The Patriots had signed former Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets running back James Robinson in March, but he was released in June.