Patriots sign RB Rhamondre Stevenson to 4-year, $36 million contract extension

Stevenson has a shot at becoming New England's all-time leading rusher

New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) steps on the field for an NFL football practice, Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson and the New England Patriots reached agreement on a four-year, $36 million contract on Thursday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal includes $17 million in guaranteed money.

Stevenson, 26, was the Patriots' leading rusher in 2022-23, tallying 1,040 yards (averaging 5 yards per carry) with five touchdowns. He was also an effective receiver, catching 69 passes for 421 yards.

However, Stevenson was limited to 12 games last season after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 13 that ended his season. Stevenson lost weight during the offseason and looked quicker in OTAs, prompting praise from new head coach Jerod Mayo.

"I think he's one of the better backs in the league, it's no doubt about it," said Mayo on the Patriots' official website. I think over the last few years, it's been kind of tough on him, as far as getting started. So, I'm excited to see what he does this season. And look, he's earned everything that he gets. He is our starting running back and hopefully we do get something done."

Now that a new contract is indeed done, Stevenson can focus on being the team's feature back. In his previous three seasons, he's split carries with Damien Harris and Ezekiel Elliott. New England signed free agent Antonio Gibson to a three-year deal, so the rushing workload should be divided again. But Mayo makes it sound as if he expects Stevenson to take the lead.

Stevenson likely staying with the Patriots for the next four seasons also provides him an opportunity to establish a legacy with the franchise, as Schefter pointed out. With 2,265 yards going into this season, he is 3,188 yards away from overtaking Sam Cunningham as the team's all-time leading rusher.

If Stevenson averages 797 yards in each of the next four seasons, he'll catch Cunningham. He's averaged 755 yards during his previous three years, but he wasn't the starter as a rookie and, as mentioned, missed four games last season.

Considering that the Patriots will begin the season with Jacoby Brissett as quarterback as they work first-round pick Drake Maye in, the offense could rely heavily on the running game — especially early on. That should give Stevenson a good opportunity to move up that franchise rushing yards list.