NFL Free Agency: New England Patriots Host Veteran Running Backs

Oliver Thomas@OliverBThomasContributor IApril 20, 2012

Tim Hightower is one of the free agent running backs who has visited with the Patriots.
Tim Hightower is one of the free agent running backs who has visited with the Patriots.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the New England Patriots held visits with two free-agent running backs on Friday: Ryan Grant and Tim Hightower.

Ryan Grant has spent the last five years with the Green Bay Packers, where he has produced two 1,000-yard campaigns. An ankle injury caused him to miss all but one game in the 2010 season. In 2011, the Notre Dame product split carries with James Starks on his way to 559 rushing yards and 268 receiving yards. At 29, Grant is no longer considered a young back, but he's still a serviceable player who could add backfield depth.

Tim Hightower has played for the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins during his four NFL seasons. A torn ACL cut the Richmond Spider's 2011 season short after just five games. However, the Hightower has shown that he can produce at a high level. In his rookie year, Hightower rushed for a career-high 10 touchdowns, and in 2010 he racked up 736 yards on the ground.


One reason for New England to be interested in RB Tim Hightower, even though he's coming off knee injury: he turns only 26 next month.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 20, 2012


Currently, only three halfbacks are under contract with the Patriots—Danny Woodhead, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.

The offseason has been an uncertain one for the Patriots at the running back position. BenJarvus Green-Ellis signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in March, and the team has yet to retain third-down specialist Kevin Faulk.

New England may be looking to add to the stable via the free agency prior to the 2012 NFL Draft.

In addition to Grant and Hightower, the Patriots met with ex-Indianapolis Colts ball carrier Joseph Addai on Thursday,'s Mary Paoletti reports.

New England has done their due diligence in checking out the leftover rushers on the market. Time will tell if these free agency visits hold any water.