Notorious for giving former standout players a second or sometimes third chance, it made plenty of sense that Bill Belichick was bringing in a two-time league rushing champion for a visit. On Saturday, the Patriots hosted free agent and former Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, according to Jordan Schultz.
Elliott left without a deal, but the sides will remain in touch, per NFL Media.
Elliott, who recently celebrated his 28th birthday, was released by the Cowboys on March 15 after Dallas placed the franchise tag on fellow running back Tony Pollard. The Patriots could use extra depth behind starter Rhamondre Stevenson after Damien Harris signed with the Bills this past offseason. Ty Montgomery was injured during practice on Thursday and is considered day to day. New England recently worked out Leonard Fournette and is trying to get a visit with reigning league rushing champion Dalvin Cook.
According to ESPN, Belichick reached out to Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones directly for some intel before inviting Elliott for a visit.
Elliott, the former Ohio State standout, was the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He led the league in rushing as a rookie while helping the Cowboys post a 13-3 record. Elliott was his second rushing title two years later as Dallas captured the NFC East title. He was selected to his third and most recent Pro Bowl in 2019 after rushing for 1,357 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The last three seasons have been less than stellar, however. Elliott ran for 979 yards in 15 games in 2020 while playing the most of the year without starting quarterback Dak Prescott. He ran for 1,002 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021 while helping the Cowboys clinch a playoff berth.
In 2022, Elliott posted career-lows of 876 rushing yards and a 3.8 yards-per-carry average. He did match his career high with 12 touchdown runs while helping Dallas win 12 games.
If signed, Elliott would join a long list of former stars signed by Belichick later in their careers. That list includes running back Corey Dillon, receiver Randy Moss, safety Rodney Harrison, linebacker Junior Seau, cornerback Darrelle Revis and wideouts Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon, among others.