The New England Patriots have been the model of consistency under head coach Bill Belichick, as he seems to continually get the most out of his players year in and year out. The Patriots have picked up veteran NFL star players in the past and helped them reach continued success in New England, putting up some of their best numbers under arguably one of the greatest coaches of all-time.
Two big-time offensive players in running back Corey Dillon and wide receiver Randy Moss come to mind when thinking about players who have found success late in their career in New England, as Dillon posted a career-high in rushing yards (1,635) in 2004, and Moss recorded a career-high in touchdown receptions (23) in 2007.
New England is looking around the league to add talent to their roster through free agency this offseason, and one position that New England's front office and coaching staff are looking to acquire is running back. Patriot running backs LaGarrette Blount and Steven Jackson become unrestricted free agents this March, and running back Dion Lewis is coming off a torn ACL.
With the running back position up in the air in New England next season, the team is investigating some top veteran free agent running backs in Matt Forte, Alfred Morris, Chris Ivory and Joique Bell, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The Bears have already decided to move on from veteran running back Forte, and many believe that he would make a strong fit in New England's backfield, especially with his versatility both as a runner and his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
The Jets would like to keep Ivory after career-highs in both rushing yards (1,070) and touchdowns (7) last season, but it's unlikely that the team will be able to retain him given their cap space and the fact that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson become unrestricted free agents. Ivory could also make a strong addition in New England and would likely make a strong combination with a healthy Dion Lewis in 2016.
The Redskins have already made it known that they will allow Morris to test free agency, and the team will wait to see what the market value is for him. Morris had his worst season since arriving in the league in 2012, but he also saw less carries with the emergence of running back Matt Jones in Washington.
The Lions have already released Bell this offseason, and like Morris, he saw a significant decrease in carries during the 2015 season. Both Morris and Bell could look to take less money in signing with New England and revive their carries behind a team that consistently makes the playoffs. But they wouldn't be the only ones willing to take less money, as Forte has said that they he is more concerned with Super Bowls than money at this point of his career, as well as what team would provide him with a better chance of that than New England.
The Patriots are still one of the heavy favorites to come out of the AFC next season, and they could look to have a new lead rusher in 2016, as the team is reportedly investigating some of the top veteran free agent running backs this offseason.