The New England Patriots‘ rookie Rhamondre Stevenson is already proving to be a wise man. The Patriots selected the 6-foot, 231-pound running back in the fourth round on Friday, and almost immediately, analysts started comparing Stevenson to former Patriots and finding parallels throughout the current roster.
WBZ’s Dan Roche tweeted this short quote from Stevenson, which had the rookie calling Bill Belichick a “genius,” mentioning bruising back LeGarrette Blount as someone he was a fan of, as well as his experience playing on special teams.
After seeing Roche’s tweet, former Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman chimed in with his experience working his way from a special teams contributor to a larger role with New England.
Edelman famously took Wes Welker’s job as a slot receiver after breaking in with the Patriots as a special teams contributor initially. Edelman just retired last month, but he had a stellar career with the Patriots, and it all began because of his willingness to put in work as a special-teamer.
Stevenson is clearly aware of Edelman and has some profound respect for his take. The 23-year-old responded with a thoughtful one-word response to the Patriots legend.
The Patriots already have five running backs on the roster right now with Damien Harris, Sony Michel, James White, J.J. Taylor and the returning Brandon Bolden. What are the chances the Patriots will keep six players at that position?
Stevenson Has Some Nice Upside
The Patriots love durable, physical, between-the-tackles running backs. Blount, Laurence Maroney, Corey Dillon, Antoine Smith are just a few of the players who have come in a package similar to Stevenson.
Because of his age and his ability to be a potential replacement for Michel, who could be a free agent after this season unless the Patriots pick up his $4.5 million option, Stevenson would seemingly have a good chance to stick.
New England essentially divides their running backs into three different sub-roles. There is the more traditional rush back, which is what Harris and Michel do. There’s the receiver out of the backfield, Harris, and potentially Taylor, and there is the big, physical, short-yardage guy who also plays special teams.
Bolden has been that guy in the past but based on Stevenson’s size profile and his experience on special teams; he could occupy that role. The real question might be: is Bolden’s job safe?
Bolden Could Be Released This Offseason
Bolden was one of eight Patriots to opt-out of the 2020 season, but he announced earlier this year that he would be back.
It’s hard to imagine Belichick spending a fourth-round pick on a running back that he didn’t believe had a good chance to make the roster. If you had to identify which current running back is the least likely to remain on the roster in 2021, it would be Bolden.
He’s coming off a year where he sat out; Bolden already had a somewhat limited role, and he just turned 31 in January. Bolden is scheduled to make just under $2 million in 2021, but his dead-cap hit is only $500,000.
The Patriots could save themselves money and clear a role for Stevenson if they released Bolden. I’m not sure it will happen before they get the rookie in camp to see what he has, but it’s a definite possibility if Stevenson can prove himself capable on special teams.