New England Patriots: Evaluating the Pats' Interest in Sammy Morris

Aaron DodgeAnalyst IJune 22, 2012

MIAMI - DECEMBER 06:  Running back Sammy Morris #34 of the New England Patriots looks for room to run while taking on the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on December 6, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 22-21.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

A surprising nugget of information made itself known on Thursday as the New England Patriots were reported to have had talks with free agent Sammy Morris

Sammy Morris tells me the Patriots have talked to him about potentially returning to the team in 2012. There's reciprocal interest.

— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) June 21, 2012

The timing seems odd considering Morris' age and the Patriots' current depth at the position. New England has a variety of youthful ball-carriers to employ with the likes of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead. Joseph Addai appears to have locked down the veteran back role, and the offense may feature a fullback which would also require one of the few roster spots available. 

Morris spent the majority of the 2011 season on the couch after being cut loose by the Patriots in September. In December, after injuries had ravaged their depth chart, the Dallas Cowboys placed a call to Morris. 

He carried the ball 28 times over the last three weeks of the season, failing to reach the end zone and a respectable average. Morris had a 3.5 yards-per-carry mark, but to his credit, 13 of his carries came against the Pittsburgh Steelers (2.2 average). 

Morris doubled that production with a 4.4 average against Tampa Bay the previous week. 

Despite the signs of life last year, I have to question the need. If New England is seriously looking to sign the 35-year-old, it's likely because they need a camp body. Morris would stand almost no chance of making the final roster; one would hope this franchise could find better alternatives.

Free agents still available at the position include Thomas Jones, Jackie Battle, Cedric Benson and Jerious Norwood—all of whom are younger than Morris and have been productive in recent seasons. 

Adding a player like Morris doesn't hurt your team; he was a solid contributor throughout his four years with the Patriots. The reason I'm against the possible pursuit is roster-size related. A veteran presence is great for a young backfield but a luxury the 2012 squad can't afford. 

Carrying an extra running back in the long run doesn't make much sense, neither would signing a semi-retired veteran prior to training camp.