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2022 NFL free agency: Quick-hit thoughts on the Patriots signing running back/wide receiver Ty Montgomery

Related: Patriots sign running back Ty Montgomery to reported 2-year contract

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The New England Patriots have been relatively quiet in this year’s free agency, thus far bring just two outside players on board. The latest of those was signed on Thursday: running back/wide receiver hybrid Ty Montgomery, who most recently played for the New Orleans Saints, was added on a reported two-year pact with a maximum value of up to $4 million.

Let’s find out what the signing means for Montgomery’s new team.

New England might have found its new Cordarrelle Patterson...

Montgomery entered the NFL as a wide receiver. Having played the position four years at Stanford, he amassed 172 catches for 2,125 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. For comparison, he carried the football just 39 times for 334 yards and four scores — solid output but not necessarily believed to be a sign of things to come.

In his second season in Green Bay, however, Montgomery started to expand his repertoire. In what was a breakout campaign, he was given more carries (102) than he had catches (54); appearing in 15 regular season games and three playoff contests he gained a combined 973 yards from scrimmage. From that point on, Montgomery — continuing to wear No. 88 — became more of a running back than a receiver.

He continued to be used that way through stints in Baltimore, New York and New Orleans. The Patriots are therefore getting plenty of versatility, reminiscent of what they had with Cordarrelle Patterson in 2018.

Patterson was acquired via trade that year and ended up seeing action as a depth option at both wide receiver and running back. While he gained a comparatively modest 517 total yards from scrimmage over his 18 games with the club, he offered value in the running game, the passing game and on special teams. New England using Montgomery in a similar fashion would not come as a surprise.

The 29-year-old is not the same freakish athlete as Patterson, of course, but he has a similar skillset and experience filling multiple roles. The Patriots obviously covet positional flexibility in their players, and Montgomery has as much as any offensive skill player that was available at this point in free agency.

...although another versatile playmaker is his closest athletic comparison

Whereas the Cordarrelle Patterson comparison is a natural one to be made, and one that does make sense, Montgomery’s size and athletic skillset compare more closely to another versatile playmaker: the San Francisco 49ers’ Deebo Samuel.

Samuel, who was selected in the second round of the 2019 draft, matches Montgomery’s testing numbers with an overlap of 94.4 percent, according to Mockdraftable.

Montgomery produced the following testing results ahead of the 2015 draft:

Ty Montgomery: 2015 testing numbers

Height Weight Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 20-yard shuttle 60-yard shuttle 3-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump
Height Weight Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 20-yard shuttle 60-yard shuttle 3-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump
6'0" 221 lbs 31" 10 1/8" 4.55 s 4.21 s 11.57 s 6.97 s 40 1/2" 121"
32%tile 59%tile 26%tile 89%tile 62%tile 67%tile 52%tile 60%tile 96%tile 69%tile

While Montgomery did not put up outstanding numbers in most of these categories, his overall skillset certainly is intriguing. The comparison with Deebo Samuel is therefore not entirely unjustified — even though Samuel as a whole is a far superior player — as is the one with Cordarrelle Patterson. Simply speaking in athletic terms, however, the newest Patriot is more the former than the latter.

The Patriots improve almost their entire offensive skill position depth

Adding a player capable of playing multiple roles helps the Patriots improve their offensive depth at more than one position. Montgomery, at the moment, projects as the team’s second receiving back behind James White and third Z-receiver option alongside Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne.

The two depth charts now look as follows with him added to the mix:

  • Receiving back: James White, Ty Montgomery, J.J. Taylor, Devine Ozigbo
  • Z-receiver: Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Ty Montgomery, Tre Nixon, Malcolm Perry

How much action Montgomery will see in either role remains to be seen, but his ability to play both of them is certainly valuable and improves the overall depth. At times in 2021, a lack of just that put the Patriots in challenging positions — most notably following a game against the Carolina Panthers and ahead of the second regular season contest versus the Buffalo Bills.

Montgomery adds value in the kicking game

While Montgomery’s offensive usage remains to be seen, he will likely be employed in the return game right away. The former third-round draft pick, after all, has plenty of experience as a kickoff returner: Montgomery has run back 63 kickoffs over the course of his career for a combined 1,380 yards and a 21.9-yard average.

On top of his abilities as a returner, Montgomery also has seen regular snaps on other special teams units. The Saints, for example, trusted him to play on both punt and kickoff coverage as well as the kickoff and punt return squads.

In total, Montgomery was on the field for 180 of a possible 469 kicking game snaps last season. His 38.4-percent playing time share ranked eighth on New Orleans’ roster.


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