The New England Patriots continued an offseason trend of retaining their own talent by reportedly extending running back Rhamondre Stevenson with a four-year deal.

Inside of that development is what stands out as a rare move for the Patriots in that type of investment in a running back.

The Patriots ended a run this offseason of giving a player drafted by the organization in the first three rounds a second-contract for the first time since Duron Harmon, who entered the league in 2013.

Stevenson may not apply to that as a fourth-round selection in 2021, though the point applies with a commitment to an impact player.

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Now, the Patriots just gave out their largest contract to a running back, doubling the previous record signed by Corey Dillon, per Spotrac. Dillon did not finish out that deal signed in 2005, so the investment in Stevenson stands out. Running backs such as James White and Kevin Faulk played longer with New England, though they were not primary ball carriers like Stevenson became.

Stevenson certainly is the best skill position player the Patriots have on offense, tallying over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 2022 and he can make plays in the open field. He can take on the workload of a feature back and New England will trust him to do that after spending the first three years in a tandem with Damien Harris followed by Ezekiel Elliott.

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Stevenson will be joined in the backfield this season by Antonio Gibson, though the Oklahoma product should be the lead back for the Patriots. That responsibility of a larger contract should elevate Stevenson to lead the skill-position players under a youth movement. The 26-year-old enters the season as the center of the offense and must produce as such through a quarterback transition.

Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots rarely committed to primary running backs in such a fashion, especially the ones they drafted. The Stevenson deal appears to be the latest change under the new regime with executive Eliot Wolf and head coach Jerod Mayo in charge.

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Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images