Patriots Part Ways With Veteran RB

Getty Devine Ozigbo

The New England Patriots have released running back Devine Ozigbo.

Ozigbo was signed to the Patriots practice squad in November 2021 after injuries made the team’s depth chart thin at that position. During the 2021 season, Ozigbo was active for one game, but he didn’t see action in the team’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts on December 18.

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Based on the Patriots’ selections during the 2022 NFL Draft, Ozigbo’s release was a sensible move.

The Patriots Added a Ton of Depth at RB in the Draft

New England used a fourth-round selection on North Dakota State RB Pierre Strong Jr. and a sixth-round pick on Kevin Harris, a back out of South Carolina, which has provided depth and an injection of youth into the team’s backfield.

Ozigbo was the veteran running back with the shortest tenure and list of noteworthy accomplishments as a Patriot, thus it makes sense he was the back released.

The 25-year-old never appeared in a game for the Patriots and has played in just 21 NFL contests since 2019. Ozigbo has just 11 rushing attempts and 13 receptions in the NFL. After his standout run at the University of Wisconsin, Ozigbo has found it difficult to secure a sustained opportunity to contribute on the pro level.

For his career, he has amassed 97 total yards from scrimmage.

It might stand to reason that Ozigbo could find a place with a USFL team. Several others who have spent time on the Patriots’ practice squad have landed with the rebooted pro league.

Patriots Cast-Offs Have Found New Life in the USFL

J’mar Smith, a quarterback the Patriots had in as an undrafted free agent back in 2020, won the league’s Player of the Week honors on their inaugural slate of games. Isaiah Zuber and Jeff Thomas are two wide receivers that spent time in training camp, and in the former’s case seeing actual action, with the Patriots.

Zuber and Thomas were on opening week rosters in the USFL after collegiate careers at Kansas State and Miami, FL, respectively.

Perhaps Ozigbo will resurface in the USFL if he doesn’t find a spot with another NFL immediately.

The Patriots’ Depth Chart at RB Has Some Interesting Possibilities

It would appear Damien Harris is slated to start at running back for the Patriots, but his inability to stay healthy should give Patriots Nation some pause. Harris averages 4.8 yards per carry for his career and he’s been very productive when he’s on the field.

Unfortunately, he missed six games in 2020 and another two in 2021. Harris was banged up much of the 2021 season with multiple appearances on the injury list, though he only sat out a couple of games.

Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson appears to have star potential, so he could be poised to take a larger chunk of the carries in his second year. When you consider Stevenson is also a superior receiver out of the backfield, there is a school of thought that suggests he is the more long-term solution at running back.

NFL teams need multiple backs, but could the Patriots consider trading Harris if one of the rookies–Strong or Harris–emerges? It would be a cheaper way to go and Harris would certainly have some value coming off a season that saw him fall just short of his first 1,000-yard rushing season.

Keep an eye on this position in training camp and the preseason. The Patriots dealt away Sony Michel ahead of the 2021 season because they felt they had enough depth at running back. New England has even more now and Harris might bring back even better assets.

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