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Resetting the Patriots Running Back Depth Chart

With news of Donald Brown’s release and injury settlement, how does the Patriots position shape up?

NFL: Preseason-New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots
Tyler Gaffney has 20 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown this preseason.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots running back depth chart will go through a major change. After signing veteran Donald Brown, the 8th year back has spent most of camp and preseason recovering from an injury. The old cliche “Can’t make the club from the tub” comes to mind here, as the team agreed to an injury settlement. I don’t see Brown being out of a job too long once he’s completely recovered, he’s a multi-use back that can give his team value as a runner, receiver, and special teamer.

The immediate consequence of this roster move is that you can pencil in Brandon Bolden to make the team in 2016 if you haven’t already. Bolden is the only RB left on the roster that offers significant special teams value. In addition, LeGarrette Blount and James White are also locks to make the roster out of camp with White likely being the top scat back behind Blount with Dion Lewis out until likely November. That possibly leaves one roster spot open. Tyler Gaffney, Joey Iosefa, and DJ Foster are the two back competing for that roster spot. Foster has nursed a hamstring injury for most of camp while Gaffney has been getting work in during the preseason games, so I have Gaffney ahead of Foster right now.

In the preseason, Gaffney has 20 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown. Looks good, but factoring in that 44 came in one carry against the New Orleans Saints the stat line doesn’t look good with a YPC under 3. Granted most of those runs came with the Patriots future roster cuts blocking for him, but I do think that Gaffney may be a better fit for the 2016 roster than Foster because Gaffney is more well-rounded a player, and as a backup versatility may be equally as important as overall talent. With only 5 RBs on the roster, there should be plenty of opportunities for Gaffney or Foster to earn a roster spot to start the year. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots picked up a RB between now and Week 1, although the chances are unlikely.