After a 4-13 season, the New England Patriots are attacking the offseason with plenty of assets to reshape the roster.

Jerod Mayo already noted that the team is ready to spend money in free agency. The Patriots will certainly have plenty to do so, currently holding over $80 million in cap space with the new league year approaching in March.

In order to restore New England’s future, the team needs to add legitimate talent across the board on the offensive side of the ball. While that mostly means at the wide receiver and tight end spots, Saquon Barkley hits the market as an impact running back following six seasons with the New York Giants — as the organization decided not to place the franchise tag on their star Tuesday

Barkley just turned 27 years old and has three seasons with over 1,000 rushing yards in his career. The running back market has taken a hit in value in recent years, so Barkley’s interest and potential compensation could look a bit different this offseason.

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With a premier running back available, should the Patriots pursue a deal with the two-time Pro Bowler?

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Barkley is a playmaker. The Patriots need a lot of those on offense.

There’s been a common theme on offense in recent years when the Patriots have struggled: an inability to run the football.

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In 2020 and 2021, the Patriots posted a top-10 rushing attack in the sport. The unit took a downspin in 2022, despite Rhamondre Stevenson recording a 1,000 yard season before the running game as a whole rarely produced in 2023.

Barkley would add a star ballcarrier who can break off gains and remains versatile as an occasional pass-catcher. The Penn State product also finds the end zone frequently, averaging nearly eight touchdowns per season in his six-year NFL career.

Barkley and Stevenson would create a legitimate 1-2 punch in the backfield, taking the pressure off of whoever the Patriots tab as their next starting quarterback of the future.

At the end of the day, running back really is not a need for the Patriots this offseason.

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If New England wants to pair Stevenson with a former NFC East Pro Bowler, Ezekiel Elliott still makes sense to return to the Patriots. Even if the numbers weren’t eye-popping, Elliott seemed to catch a second wind in the final weeks of the season with the Patriots in 2023.

Re-signing Elliott to a new deal would absolutely be cheaper than chasing a contract with Barkley, properly allowing the Patriots to put their full resources into the wide receiver and lineman positions to get the new quarterback a full array of offensive talent.

Barkley is a star and can still produce like one.

Ultimately, the return of Stevenson and a new offensive scheme where Alex Van Pelt can restore his impact negates the need for Barkley, especially when the Patriots have to invest in true wide receiver talents.

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Featured image via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images