NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
When the Patriots passed on the opportunity to draft a running back last week in the NFL Draft, it appeared that the Patriots would address the lack of running back depth through the free agent market.
On Saturday, word was leaked out by Peyton Manning of all people, that his former Colts teammate RB Joseph Addai was going to sign with the Patriots.
A week before the NFL Draft the Patriots worked out a trio of free agent running backs. That trio included former Redskins RB Tim Hightower, former Colts RB Joseph Addai and Packers free agent RB Ryan Grant.
It appeared likely that the Patriots were going to add one more RB to the depth chart that already included second year running backs Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and 3rd down/scatback Danny Woodhead. When the draft ended last Saturday and the Patriots didn’t draft a running back we got our answer to how they were going to add another running back, everything except the name.
Well, on Saturday Peyton Manning leaked out that his former teammate Joseph Addai was signing with New England, giving Patriot fans their answer.
Joseph Addai is entering his 7th season in the NFL and it will be his first season with a team besides the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots passed on Addai in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft to pick running back Laurence Maroney with the 21st pick.
Addai has only played 20 games combined over the previous two seasons as he has battled various injuries. The 2011 season was the worst statistical season for Addai as he amassed only 433 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. He also added 15 receptions for 93 yards. The 2011 season as a whole was a disaster for the Colts, so it’s tough to take much stock in the 2011 numbers.
Although it’s clear he’s not the same running back he once was, Bill Belichick obviously liked what he saw in his workout two weeks ago.
Addai appears to be one of the final pieces to the 2012 New England Patriots offense in my opinion. During this off-season, the Patriots have rebuilt their receiving corps with Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Donte Stallworth and Anthony Gonzalez. They have added a number three tight end in Daniel Fells and added some depth along the offensive line with Robert Gallery. The running back position was the one roster spot that had yet to be addressed, and with the signing of Addai the offensive attack looks complete.
When healthy and at his best Addai is a very good all-around back. At 5’11” 215 pound he is a bigger running back, who is a very balanced runner. Addai can run between the tackles, but is also elusive enough to make people miss in space.
Throughout his career Addai has been a productive receiver out of the backfield, catching 191 passes in his career. Coming from the Colts spread passing attack, Addai has experience in pass protection and is considered one of the better pass blocking running backs in the league.
Coming to the Patriots at this point in his career Joseph Addai isn’t going to be asked to carry the load. His role will be to challenge, push and to mentor second year runners Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley.
The Patriots have lost both BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk this off-season. In losing them, the Patriots lost their two best pass protecting running backs. Addai’s value to the Patriots will be tied to his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and protect Tom Brady in passing situations. It’s tough to ask two young running backs to pass block if they don’t have game experience doing it. Addai will simply give the Patriots more options and depth at the position.
It will be interesting to watch just how much Joseph Addai has left in the tank. With his signing it appears that the 2012 New England Patriots are set. Well, at least their offense is, and it’s going to be fun to watch!