By: Ian Logue
Patriots runningback BenJarvus Green-Ellis did the best he could as an undrafted free agent, becoming one of the most reliable runningbacks in football and becoming the first 1,000 yard rusher two seasons ago for the Patriots since Corey Dillon.
Green-Ellis is now a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Apparently it wasn’t quite enough, and now he’s moving on to a team that made him believe he’s their guy for the forseeable future and gave him the money to prove it.
According to published reports the veteran runningback agreed to a 3-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday, ending his career in Foxboro. The agreement marks the end of a tenure that, while not spectacular, was a solid career as a member of the New England Patriots.
Last season was a tough one for Green-Ellis, who was hampered by a toe injury and ended up sharing carries with rookie Stevan Ridley. He finished the season with 667 yards on 181 carries (3.7 avg) along with 11 touchdowns.
As mentioned in this recent entry, last season was an off year for Green-Ellis both in terms of production and situationally, with the runningback having had more negative carries and no-gain rushes in 2011 than he did in 2010.
Green-Ellis had 13 rushes for a loss in 2011, along with 23 rushes for no gain, 9 of which came in the fourth quarter.
In 2010, Green-Ellis had 12 rushes for a loss, but had just 18 rushes for no gain. That season his quarter of weakness was the 2nd quarter, where he had 9 rushes without picking up a yard. He was more effective closing out games that year, carrying just 4 times in the fourth quarter for a loss that season, along with just 3 for no gain.
That quarter was also his most productive that year, where he carried 73 times for 336 yards (a 4.6avg).
Ridley meanwhile carried 87 times for 441 yards, along with an impressive 5.1 ypc average. The downside for the rookie was the fact he fumbled twice at the end of the season, and ended up being a healthy scratch in the AFC Championship game, while also not touching the ball during New England’s Super Bowl loss to the Giants.
Obviously the Patriots felt it was time to move in another direction, and in all likelihood the Bengals signed Green-Ellis for more than New England would have likely been willing to give him. That likely means a larger role for Ridley and also Shane Vereen, who was mostly a spectator during his rookie season.
As for Green-Ellis, he unseats Cedric Benson, who the Bengals themselves appear to be moving away from. Benson has had his own issues holding onto the football, having had 12 fumbles over the past two seasons. For now he remains unsigned.
If the Bengals were hoping to get someone more sure handed, Green-Ellis is definitely their guy. Most analysts felt that his reliability and ball security would be something another team would be willing to take a chance on, and now the Bengals will have him in their backfield next season.