LeGarrette Blount signed a two-year deal with the Steelers, free-agent Michael Bush was in town for a free-agent visit but left without a contract, and thus a void remains on the Patriots' roster for a bigger running back.
If it's not Bush, the most likely place it will come from is the draft, and Russ Lande of SportsonEarth.com gave his rankings/analysis Wednesday on the best "big back" prospects.
Here are some thoughts from a Patriots perspective:
1. Carlos Hyde (Ohio State) -- At 5-foot-11 7/8 and 230 pounds, he is the consensus top player at the position. The "dilemma" for the Patriots would be if he represents value at No. 29. If the team doesn't believe he does, it's hard to imagine Hyde would be there at the team's next pick, 62.
2. Andre Williams (Boston College) -- No stranger to the Patriots because he did his best work about 20 miles from Gillette Stadium, he put together an impressive 2013 season that was worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration. At 5-foot-11 3/8 and 230 pounds, he is a solid all-around prospect who projects to the middle rounds. If he's there in the late third round, it's an intriguing possibility in the range where value might match up with need.
3. Terrance West (Towson) --At 5-foot-9 1/4 and 225 pounds, he played at a lower-level of competition but did what players at that level have to do -- dominate. A middle-round projection.
4. Jeremy Hill (LSU) -- The Patriots have had success with running backs from LSU (Stevan Ridley, Kevin Faulk), and the 6-foot-0 5/8, 233-pound Hill is a hard-charging, downhill runner. He was arrested twice at LSU and those off-field issues will draw scrutiny from teams (and makes us think the Patriots would stay away).
5. Lorenzo Taliaferro (Coastal Carolina) -- The 6-foot-0 1/4, 229-pound Taliaferro would be a developmental prospect in the late rounds/free-agency range, similar to when the Patriots hit on BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2008. His special- teams experience landed him in this final spot.