While we were waiting not-so-patiently on Butler and Hightower the Patriots signed running back Rex Burkhead, as reported by Field Yates.
The Patriots have signed former Bengals RB Rex Burkhead, per league source.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 14, 2017
Rex Burkhead led Cincy in special teams tackles last year; he has started one game in NFL career – rushing for 119 yds and two TD’s.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2017
Burkhead the perfect 4 down back for the Patriots.
— Michael Lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) March 14, 2017
Burkhead was drafted in the 6th round of the 2013 draft and waited three seasons before injuries gave him a shot in 2016. He delivered with 4.6 yards-per-attempt on 74 carries with two touchdowns. He also pitched in with 17 catches for the Bengals, had six kickoff returns in 2016 and played close to half of the special teams snaps. Clearly he brings some value and can contribute in a number of ways. At 5’10”, 210 pounds, Burkhead should compete for early down carries.
How does this affect the future of LeGarrette Blount? There have been rumors that the Pats are ready to move on from Blount, and I’m fine with that. But I don’t think the signing of Burkhead completely rules out a Blount return, though they appear to have similar fits in the Patriots’ offense.
Though this signing could mean more for Brandon Bolden’s future. Burkhead checks all the special teams boxes Bolden did, but also brings more potential at the running back position, thus maximizing his value a bit more than the Pats veteran.
As you can see from the highlights below, Burkhead runs hard and could be a nice addition that makes the Patriots mid-to-low range of the roster better.