Report: Jeremy Hill Agrees to Patriots Contract After 4 Seasons with Bengals

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2018

Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) runs with the ball during an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Cleveland. The Bengals won 23-10. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, running back Jeremy Hill is moving on after reportedly agreeing to a deal with the New England Patriots on Friday, according to ESPN's Field Yates

It marks the second consecutive offseason New England has signed a running back from Cincinnati, having picked up dual-threat Rex Burkhead last year. This time around, the team is getting more of a runner.

A second-round pick in 2014, Hill's career got off to a promising start. The LSU product rushed for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie, and he averaged 816 yards with 10 touchdowns over the next two seasons.

However, his yards per carry dropped from 5.1 in his first year to under 4.0 in each of the last three campaigns. Hill had a reduced role last season after the team drafted Joe Mixon in the second round last year.

Hill played in just seven games last season due to an ankle injury, running for 116 yards on 3.1 yards per carry without finding the end zone. As he was set to hit free agency after the season, the veteran back opted to have midseason ankle surgery, a move Bengals coach Marvin Lewis disagreed with.

Hill's legacy in Cincinnati will always be defined by a critical fumble in a 2015 Wild Card Game that helped cost the Bengals their first playoff win since 1990.

If there's anything that gets a player in Patriots coach Bill Belichick's doghouse, it's turning the ball over. Hill coughed up the football eight times in his first two regular seasons and only once in the last two.

There is still plenty of potential for Hill. He has shown that he can be the featured back, and the 25-year-old is still young enough to turn things around.

Without Dion Lewis, New England will be looking for a running back to lean on in big situations. Burkhead can fill Lewis' versatile role on passing downs, but when the Patriots are in short-yardage situations or at the goal line, Hill can pound the ball and pick up tough yards.

New England will hope that Hill has put his injury (and ball-security issues) behind him. If he has, this move could pay dividends.

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