Patriots Cut Ties with Former Super Bowl Champ RB

Patriots ex-practice squad RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn

Getty Patriots ex-practice squad RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn

In his four NFL seasons, Patriots running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn has had a wide range of ups and downs. He was a third-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2020, and suited up for the team that postseason as Tampa Bay rolled behind Tom Brady all the way to a Super Bowl championship. The following year, he was a postseason starter for the Bucs and scored a touchdown in the playoff opener.

But Vaughn was not able to carve out a consistent role, got released in Tampa and was picked up by the Patriots late last year, given a spot on the practice squad. He made enough of an impression to earn a futures contract from the Patriots this year, but on Monday, his time with New England was cut short as the Patriots waived him.

It was part of a handful of transactions as New England tries to set its 90-man roster ahead of the start of training camp. The Patriots added four undrafted rookies, the team announced: running back Terrell Jennings, guard Ryan Johnson, linebacker Jay Person and defensive end Jotham Russell. Russell could be an interesting case—he is Australian and was signed via the International Pathways Program.


Rhamondre Stevenson Clear RB1 Option

Jennings, who played at Florida A&M, will likely have a chance at taking the place of Vaughn on the Patriots practice squad, as the team’s running backs depth chart undergoes some transformation.

Despite some bright moments from Ezekiel Elliott last year, the Patriots let him go in free agency, and he eventually re-signed with the Cowboys. That leaves Rhamondre Stevenson, who struggled through an injury-marred 2023, as the lead back for the Patriots. Stevenson tallied 619 yards in 12 games, and added 238 yards out of the backfield as a receiver. He had a total of just four touchdowns all year.

Stevenson averaged 4.0 yards per carry last season, which was down from the hefty 5.0 he averaged his previous seasons. Stevenson earned a Pro Football Focus grade of 71.3 last year, which was 31st out of 59 running backs in the NFL.

The Patriots also added Antonio Gibson this offseason, who excelled as a third-down back for the Commanders last year. Gibson has a 1,000-yard season to his credit—in his second season, in 2021—but ran for just 265 yards in 16 games last year. He had 389 yards receiving.


Patriots Will Emphasize Outside Runs More in 2024

While the revamped receiving crew and new quarterback Drake Maye have gotten most of the offensive attention for the Patriots in the early part of this offseason, new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt has said he will emphasize the running game. The team still has no sure starting quarterback—either Maye or Jacoby Brissett—but either way, there will be a new-look ground game on hand.

Where the Patriots mostly kept their runs inside last season, Van Pelt can be expected to stretch the field more on the edges.

Offensive tackle Mike Onwenu talked about that change earlier this month (via NBC Sports Boston): “It is a lot of wide-zone and more emphasis on actually stretching the ball, and having the ball go on the outside. Whereas last year we were more cut-back, where everything was a lot of cut-back.

“It’ll be interesting to see how it plays. It’ll probably allow us to finish our blocks and really stay on our blocks, without worrying about the guy falling off or worrying about where the running back is going to go. He’s going to make us right.”

 

 

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