Michael Lombardi believes two of the best available NFL free agents no longer are surveying their options.

Both Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott have been on the open market for months. Cook was set free in early June when he was released by the Minnesota Vikings, while Elliott has been without a team since the turn of the new league year when he was cut by the Dallas Cowboys.

The pair of veteran running backs have been attached to a variety of teams — including the New England Patriots — through rumors and visits, but as of Sunday morning, neither player was on an NFL roster. Lombardi, however, believes this is by design.

“I think Dalvin and Zeke are gonna sign with two weeks to go (before the season starts),”  Lombardi said Thursday on “The Pat McAfee Show,” as transcribed by Sports Illustrated. “I think both know where they’re gonna go. I think both don’t want to play yet until camp gets over.”

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It wouldn’t be surprising if either player is looking to minimize the number of dog days that come with August football. However, Cook and Elliott also could be holding out with hopes of a better offer coming to pass before Week 1. Injuries can crop up as the preseason unfolds, and a suddenly desperate team could be willing to open up its wallet a little wider.

New England currently doesn’t look like a realistic option for either Cook or Elliott, though. The Patriots recently added to their running back room with the signing of C.J. Marable.

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