The Patriots and running back Joseph Addai have reached a contract agreement, a source confirms, and here are a few thoughts from this view:
1. Insurance & depth. If things go according to plan, second-year rushers Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley will top the depth chart along with Danny Woodhead. But given what seems like the high rate of injury at the position, building more depth is smart business. I don't view Addai as a certainty to be on the final roster, but even if he doesn't make the initial cut, he could be ready to go with a knowledge of the system in the event of an unexpected injury.
2. Versatility likely the clincher. Addai's pass-catching ability, coupled with some of the work he's done on early downs, was likely appealing to the Patriots over other options because he provides a backup option across all situations. He's considered a solid blocker as well.
3. Patriots' history with veterans. Addai's production has dipped in recent years, although it might be dangerous to read too much into 2011 based on how the Colts fell apart without Peyton Manning. If Addai (5-11, 214) has something left to offer, it seems fair to say the Patriots will find a way to maximize it. The team's work with veterans later in their careers has been notable under Bill Belichick, who seems to have a knack of bringing out the best in them (e.g. Andre Carter in 2011).
4. Faulk effect. With the Patriots turning to Addai, it casts further doubt on the team possibly bringing veteran Kevin Faulk back to the fold. Faulk has expressed a desire to play a 14th season, putting the football on the team's side of the field. This doesn't look good for his chances.
5. Considering how many backs on the roster. The Patriots carried five running backs the second half of last season, and one would think Vereen, Ridley and Woodhead are entrenched, assuming good health. So then the question becomes whether to keep four or five players at the position, and how much does a fullback potentially factor into it. A fullback would likely provide more special teams value than Addai. With three tight ends locked in, and a logjam at receiver that could produce big numbers on the roster, the total number of backs could be trimmed to four.