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Former Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis signed a three-year deal Wednesday with the Cincinnati Bengals. The financial details of the contract have yet to be released.
As Green-Ellis makes his exit, it has left many Patriot fans wondering: who is going to carry the ball in New England? Why would they left Green-Ellis leave?
The answer, simply, is this: he’s not a very good running back, and he’s the definition of a system player. In other words, his career will undoubtedly flounder while playing for a team without a once in a generation quarterback and and All-Pro offensive line.
Sure, he has never fumbled in his NFL career. And yes, he has led the Patriots in rushing for each of the last two seasons, scoring 24 touchdowns in that time. But again, much, if not all, of Green-Ellis’ success can be attributed to the Patriots’ dynamic offense. Green-Ellis is anything but dynamic, recording a season-long run of 18 yards, but he is able to hide behind his reliability and the rest of New England’s gifted offensive players.
The crux of the matter is that the Patriots decided they were not going to re-sign Green-Ellis during the 2011 draft, and probably even months before then. After spending second- and third-round picks on Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley, the Patriots clearly were going to move away from Green-Ellis when his contract expired.
Throw Danny Woodhead into the backfield, and you are left with three running backs who are, quite frankly, more talented than Green-Ellis, and are on a team that doesn’t even run the ball very much.
Green-Ellis only carried the ball 15 times or more in a game on three occasions last season. He averaged 3.7 yards per carry, and only caught nine passes. He is a one dimensional player on a team that values versatility above all else.
Rush attempts for Vereen, Ridley, and Woodhead will be divided in 2012 and 2013, and for far fewer dollars per rush.
The Patriots demonstrated yet again that there is no room for emotion or sentimentality in the world of professional sports, and they’re better off for it.