The New England Patriots threw a haymaker Monday by agreeing to a one-year contract with Ezekiel Elliott, a high-profile running back with an impressive résumé that includes three Pro Bowl selections and two rushing titles with the Dallas Cowboys.

But the New York Jets wasted no time in delivering an AFC East counterpunch, landing Dalvin Cook, a four-time Pro Bowl pick who’s coming off another excellent season with the Minnesota Vikings.

Add everything up, and FS1’s Colin Cowherd on Tuesday sounded rather underwhelmed with Bill Belichick’s approach to roster building. After all, Cook is a better player than Elliott yet didn’t cost a whole lot more in free agency.

“My second takeaway is the Patriots could’ve had Dalvin Cook. Instead, it was about value. It’s always about value for Belichick. Nice stuff costs money,” Cowherd said on FS1. “Remember that show ‘Extreme Couponing’ years ago? And you’d watch these people come into a grocery store and it was like, ‘Oh my God, they got a thousand dollars worth of groceries for seven cents. Cool, 18 jars of mustard.’ And then by the end of the show, your takeaway was, ‘These people are weirdos.’ Yeah, they are. And Belichick’s becoming one. Nice stuff costs money.”

Story continues below advertisement

“You get what you pay for,” he added. “In 2023, highly skilled offensive pieces — tight ends, running backs, wide receivers, quarterbacks. They cost money. … The Jets pay $8.6 million for Dalvin Cook. The Patriots pay about $6 million for Zeke. Bill used coupons.”

This isn’t to say Elliott can’t help the Patriots. His addition makes a lot of sense for New England, which lacked depth behind starting running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Elliott figures to be a viable No. 2 option in the backfield.

It’s just fair to wonder whether the Patriots should’ve shelled out the extra cash for Cook, a superior player who might’ve been a real game-changer for New England. Time will tell which veteran makes the bigger impact in 2023.

Story continues below advertisement

“The Jets paid a little more and got a lot more,” Cowherd said. “And the Patriots continue to seek value and bring coupons on offensive pieces. This is not 1998. (Tom) Brady’s gone. Your quarterback’s not as good. He doesn’t have the ability at this point to elevate players. So, you have to go get great players around him.”

New England’s offense sure looks better on paper with Elliott in tow. Will that be enough in the AFC East, a division loaded with playmakers elsewhere?

If it isn’t, we could be left asking why Belichick didn’t spend more to improve the offense around third-year quarterback Mac Jones this season.

Featured image via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images