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Patriots sign former Bengals RB Jeremy Hill

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The Patriots are adding a bruiser to their backfield.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, it was reported the Patriots were bringing in former Bengals RB Jeremy Hill for a visit. Less than 24 hours later, it’s now being reported that the former 2nd round pick will be playing for the Patriots in 2018.

The Patriots have typically carried that big, bruising back that takes the lion’s share of carries for the team with Antowain Smith (2001-2003), Corey Dillon (2004-2006), Sammy Morris (2007-2008), and LeGarrette Blount (2013-2016). Hill will play that role for the Patriots in 2018 with Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White, and Brandon Bolden filling out the RB corps. Hill exploded onto the scene with Cincinnati as a rookie, picking up 1124 rushing yards and 9 TDs while catching 27 passes for 215 yards. His sophomore season resulted in 12 touchdowns (11 rushing), but Hill never was able to expand on that success. Part of it could be the locker room issues that surround the Bengals, some on key losses on the offensive line, as well as injuries.

In New England, the locker room is a very tight-knit group and the Patriots will have a plan for him in place. Hill does have value as a pass catcher, with two seasons with more than 20 receptions. He’s not as dynamic as Burkhead or White in the passing game, but he is a reliable checkdown option if nothing is open downfield and Gronk is getting mugged with no flags. I can see Hill picking up 200 carries and 20 catches with the Patriots if things go well for him. In the compensatory pick department, Hill likely cancels out Dion Lewis or Johnson Bademosi although the Patriots could only receive a maximum of 4 picks.

In terms of expectations, I think he will produce around 3.5-4 yards per carry, although the Patriots still need to figure out their plan on replacing Nate Solder at left tackle. He’s not going to put up Dion Lewis numbers, in fact I expect his statlines to be very reminiscent of what Blount did in his 3 12 seasons with the Patriots. For Hill it could present an opportunity to build up his free agent stock in a year or two and cash in because the Patriots will give him opportunities if he makes the roster.