The New England Patriots bolstered their depth at running back Tuesday by signing free agent Rex Burkhead.
Burkhead, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, is entering his fifth NFL season. He spent the previous four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2013.
Primarily a special teams player earlier in his career, Burkhead blossomed into a legitimate offensive weapon for Cincinnati this past season, carrying the ball 74 times for 344 yards with two touchdowns while adding 17 receptions for 145 yards.
Burkhead’s final game in a Bengals uniform was the best of his career. He racked up 119 yards on 27 carries and found the end zone twice in a Week 17 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
With James White and Dion Lewis both returning after strong 2016 campaigns, the Patriots now have three running backs capable of catching the ball out of the backfield, not including practice-squadder D.J. Foster. And while he’s no LeGarrette Blount, the 26-year-old Burkhead might be the best between-the-tackles rusher in that group.
White and Lewis both are set to hit free agency in 2018.
Blount and fellow Patriots running back Brandon Bolden have yet to sign new contracts since becoming unrestricted free agents last week. Burkhead, who led the Bengals in special teams tackles in 2016 and paced them in special teams snaps in 2015, could take over Bolden’s role in the kicking game.
The terms of Burkhead’s contract were not announced.
Thumbnail photo via David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports Images