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2018 NFL free agency: Patriots re-sign running back Rex Burkhead

New England keeps Burkhead in the fold.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL league year is only a few minutes old but the New England Patriots already know that some of their core players from years past will not return: Nate Solder, Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler will all wear different uniforms next season. The Patriots will need to find a way to replace their past production either during free agency or the draft – and they are starting by targeting the running back position.

According to the Boston Globe's JimMcBride, New England re-signed running back Rex Burkhead:

The @Patriots have agreed to a multiyear contract with RB Rex Burkhead @RBrex2022 according to a league source. Burkhead collected more than 500 yards from scrimmage with 8 TDs in 2017.

The Patriots saw significant turnover at the running back position during the 2017 offseason – signing Burkhead to a one-year deal in free agency was one part of the changes. Acquiring the ex-Cincinnati Bengals running back turned out to be a good move for New England as he appeared in 12 of the team’s games as a versatile chess-piece option out of the backfield to complement Dion Lewis and James White.

Burkhead’s productivity was not limited to offense as he actually saw a higher playing time percentage in the kicking game and finished with four tackles and a blocked punt. In short: No matter how he was used, the former sixth round draft pick was effective and if not for injuries would certainly have played more than just 16.2% of New England’s offensive snaps.

Still, it looks as if the Patriots like what they saw of him and have now brought him back – an important move with Lewis heading to the Tennessee Titans.