On Thursday, the New England Patriots made their first free agency addition on the offensive side of the ball. According to multiple reports, the team has added running back/wide receiver-hybrid Ty Montgomery on a two-year contract with a maximum value of $4 million.
Montgomery becomes only the second outside free agent signed so far this week, joining cornerback Terrance Mitchell who was added on Wednesday. Like Mitchell, Montgomery will likely not be a lock to make the roster.
Name: Ty Montgomery
Position: Running back/Wide receiver/Kick returner
Opening day age: 29
Size: 6-foot-0, 216 pounds
Contract status: Under contract through 2023
Following a productive four-year career at Stanford, Montgomery entered the NFL as a third-round draft selection by the Green Bay Packers in 2015. Spending the first three-and-a-half seasons of his career in Green Bay, Montgomery proved himself a productive and versatile player. Regularly moving between wide receiver and running back, he appeared in 39 games for the team and amassed 309 touches for 1,844 yards and 12 touchdowns.
However, the Packers moved on from Montgomery during the 2018 regular season, trading him to the Baltimore Ravens. He appeared in seven games during his half-season in Baltimore, serving primarily as a depth piece on offense as well as a special teamer. After his stint as Raven, Montgomery spent one year with the New York Jets as well as two as a member of the New Orleans Saints. In total, he has seen action in a combined 83 regular season and playoff contests.
A versatile weapon, Montgomery has gained a combined 2,479 yards in those 83 games and scored 12 touchdowns. He furthermore has run back 63 kickoffs over the course of his career for 1,380 yards and a 21.9-yard average. The majority of his production on both offense and in the return game has come during his time with the Packers, though; Montgomery has become more of a role player since leaving Green Bay.
What is his projected role in New England? Based on his previous usage, the Patriots will likely employ Montgomery in three different areas: the running game, the passing game, and the return game. On the offensive side of the ball, Montgomery is neither an early-down runner nor a starter-level wideout; he is therefore expected to be used primarily in select passing sets rather than as a three-down player. On special teams, he offers some value both as a returner and on kick coverage.
Where does he fit on the running back and wide receiver depth charts? At this point in his career, Montgomery does not appear to be a starter-level player at either position. That said, he offers experienced depth at both. At wide receiver, he currently projects as the number three “Z” behind Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne. At running back, he might serve as the number two receiving option behind James White — a job previously held by recent free agency departee Brandon Bolden.
Does he have positional versatility? Yes! Montgomery is neither an elite wide receiver nor an elite running back, but he has experience playing both positions and has performed at a solid level especially during his time with the Packers. Knowing how much New England appreciates its multi-faceted players, the team will likely find a way to facilitate touches for him in select situations and packages.
What is his special teams value? While Montgomery’s versatility on offense makes him an intriguing player, his abilities in the kicking game cannot be underestimated either. He is solid if unspectacular as a kickoff returner, and his positional flexibility shines through yet again. He was used as a gunner on punt coverage in the past, participated in kickoff coverage as well, and also blocked on punt returns. Even if not used as a kickoff returner, Montgomery can be a four-unit special teamer.
What does it mean for New England’s salary cap? While the full details of Montgomery’s two-year contract are not available just yet, the belief is that it will only have a minimal impact on New England’s current cap situation. After all, two-year deals usually become more expensive in Year 2. Given that Montgomery’s pact has a reported total maximum value of $4 million the reasonable assumption would be that it will be cheaper in 2022 and therefore cost the team no more than $2 million even if all incentives are met.
What does it mean for New England’s draft outlook? Even with Montgomery and his versatile skillset in the fold, the Patriots remain in the market for help at the wide receiver position. The 29-year-old, after all, is not expected to become a game-changer for New England; and in the unlikely case he does getting younger players with more upside onto the team will still be highly important. As for running back, New England might still invest a mid- or late-round pick to bolster the long-term depth.
One-sentence verdict: Ty Montgomery basically gives the Patriots a Brandon Bolden replacement with more upside on the offensive side of the ball.
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