The New England Patriots ended the 2018 season in the best possible way, by defeating the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl 53. In order to stay on top of the NFL mountain, though, the organization will have to quickly turn the page to get itself into a position to create the best possible team for the 2019 season. And a big part of building such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency.
If judged by the list of free agents to be, New England’s front office will be busy over the next few weeks before the new league year officially is kicked off on March 13. Also over the next few weeks, we will take a look at those free agents-to-be to find out who may or may not get re-signed by the Patriots; and who should be a part of the 2019 squad. Today, we’ll continue the series with running back Jeremy Hill.
#33 RB Jeremy Hill
2019 opening day age: 26
2018 playing time: 1 regular season game; 1.07% offensive snaps, 1.32% special teams snaps
2018 regular season statistics: 4 carries, 25 yards; 1 reception, 6 yards
2018 cap number: $1.33 million
Jeremy Hill’s first season with the Patriots lasted only 18 snaps: early in the third quarter of the team’s season opener against the Houston Texans, he accidentally collided with fullback James Develin on a fumble return, leading to a torn ACL. Up to that point and with first-round rookie Sony Michel missing the contest due to a knee injury of his own, Hill was New England’s top option as the early down running back.
Why should he be re-signed? While Hill played not even one full game for the Patriots in 2018, he did look solid in limited action. The team might therefore still see value in him as a backup option behind the aforementioned Sony Michel — in particular with neither Rex Burkhead nor James White ideal fits to fill Michel’s role in case of injury or the use of a rotational approach. The 6’1, 230 lbs Hill, on the other hand, is an experienced big back and could further boost what is already one of the NFL’s best running back groups.
Why should he be let go? Not only did Hill tear his ACL last September, the Patriots may also decide against retaining the 26-year old due to the composition of their running back position: as mentioned above, New England already has a deep and talented group, and in turn may opt to invest elsewhere — especially with Sony Michel looking impressive as a lead back during his 2018 rookie campaign.
Projection: The Patriots re-sign Hill on a contract similar to the one he signed last offseason: New England brought the former second-round draft pick on board in 2018 via a one year, $1.5 million deal that included a modest $150,000 in guarantees.