The New England Patriots could be in the market for running back help after losing James White to a hip subluxation.
Might Marlon Mack pique their interest?
According to multiple reports Tuesday, the Indianapolis Colts are looking to trade Mack, who was a 1,000-yard rusher in 2019 before missing most of last season with a torn Achilles.
Mack re-signed with the Colts on a one-year, $2 million contract in March but has played just 13 offensive snaps through three games, logging five carries for 16 yards while playing behind Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.
The 25-year-old reportedly is fully healthy and is seeking a fresh start.
White’s injury, which occurred early in the second quarter of Sunday’s 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints, leaves the Patriots with questionable running back depth. Backups J.J. Taylor (second year) and Rhamondre Stevenson (first year) lack NFL experience, and the Patriots were reluctant to use lead back Damien Harris in the passing game Sunday, giving the bulk of White’s snaps to veteran special teamer Brandon Bolden.
Taylor and Stevenson have played sparingly this season, totaling just 20 offensive snaps and seven touches through three weeks. White will be “out indefinitely,” according to a report Monday. It’s unclear whether his injury will be season-ending.
Would adding Mack to this group make sense? He’s been productive in the past, rushing for 908 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018 and 1,091 yards and eight scores in 2019. He hasn’t posted anything close to White-level numbers as a pass-catcher but did record a respectable 25 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown as a rookie in 2017.
But one aspect of Mack’s skill set could scare the Patriots away.
New England needs to find a way to replace White’s talents in pass protection, and Mack has struggled mightily in that area during his NFL career. Among 67 running backs with at least 20 pass-blocking snaps in 2018, Mack’s pass-blocking grade on Pro Football Focus ranked 62nd. In 2019, he ranked 66th out of 69.
Mack is playing on an affordable contract, however — his base salary this season is just $1 million — and could be worth a flier if Indianapolis is willing to move him for a reasonable return.
The 1-2 Patriots are preparing to host the 2-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on “Sunday Night Football.” The Bucs have boasted one of the NFL’s top run defenses thus far, ranking fourth in yards allowed per game and third in yards allowed per carry.