After losing Dion Lewis to the Tennessee Titans in free agency, the New England Patriots made a move to shore up the running position by signing former Cincinnati Bengals tailback Jeremy Hill. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.
Source: the Patriots are signing former Bengals RB Jeremy Hill.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 16, 2018
Report: New England Patriots Add Jeremy Hill
Up to this point, Hill’s career has been somewhat of a disappointment. He was shot out of a cannon his rookie year, rushing for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns. As a member of an impressive 2014 LSU draft class that included Pro Bowl wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., Hill made an early impact on an already impressive Cincinnati Bengals team. The potential was obvious, but never quite reached.
As part of a running back by committee backfield in Cincinnati, Hill split carries with the versatile Giovani Bernard. And although Hill received the lion’s share of the carries, Bernard was clearly the better back.
A Decline in Production
Hill’s second and third seasons were productive but nowhere near the numbers of his rookie campaign. In the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Hill carried the ball 445 times for 1,633 yards and 20 touchdowns. Hill’s value in short yardage situations and near the goal line was evident; his issues were between the 20-yard lines.
In 2017, the Bengals drafted Joe Mixon out of Oklahoma—arguably, the most talented back in the draft—to add some spark to their offense. Mixon is a big, athletic back who catches balls like a wide receiver. He has the skill set of Bernard in a bigger frame and is everything Hill was supposed to be.
The Begining of the End
The drafting of Mixon was the beginning of the end for Hill in Cincinnati. Hill’s season was cut short after just seven games in 2017 due to injury. Those last few games would end up being his last in a Bengals uniform.
Even before the injury, it was clear that Cincinnati had moved on from Hill. He had carried the ball just 37 times for 116 yards and was losing time and carries to both Mixon and Bernard.
History has shown that Hill can be productive without the need for a full workload. He is a powerful runner with an acumen for work near the goal line. And at 25 years old, there is still plenty of tread left on his tires.