The Patriots are bringing in another veteran running back to spell James White and provide special teams value.
The team signed seven-year running back/wide receiver hybrid Ty Montgomery to a two-year contract, the Globe confirmed.
Though Montgomery has primarily played in a reserve role and has never put up big numbers in his career — he has 1,180 rushing yards on 258 carries and has 139 catches for 1,104 yards — he offers the kind of versatility the Patriots value.
Here are three things to know.
He’s a jack-of-all-trades
Even before making it to the NFL, Montgomery was known for doing a lot of things well on the field.
He was a multi-sport athlete growing up in Dallas. He starred in track and field, thriving as a 100 and 200-meter sprinter and long jumper. He also played quarterback, running back, and receiver at St. Mark’s School of Texas.
Montgomery primarily played wide receiver at Stanford, but also had a large role as a kick-return specialist and got carries at running back.
That set him up for his time with the Green Bay Packers, who drafted him in the third round in 2015.
Though Montgomery was originally drafted as a wide receiver, he switched to running back in 2016 following injuries to Eddie Lacy and James Starks, and broke out for 162 yards against the Chicago Bears late in the season.
He left Green Bay on bad terms
After 2016, Montgomery’s numbers began to dip again as he struggled to break through crowded depth charts at wide receiver and running back.
Then, with the Packers down a score late in a game against the Los Angeles Rams in 2018, Montgomery went rogue on a kickoff return, taking it out of the end zone despite coaches’ instructions to take a knee and accept a touchback.
The decision proved disastrous: Montgomery fumbled the ball away to the Rams — and, with it, the Packers’ chances of winning the game.
The mistake drew the ire of Rodgers and other teammates, who slammed him through the media for “throwing a fit” about his reduced role on offense. Montgomery admitted making what he called a “split-second” mistake on the play but rejected the idea that he would “completely disobey” coaches.
Two days after the costly fumble, the Packers traded Montgomery to the Baltimore Ravens for a seventh-round pick.
He provides insurance for James White, kick return unit
Though White is back on a two-year deal, the 30-year-old back is coming off of a serious hip injury that prematurely ended his 2021 season. If White isn’t what he once was or struggles to stay healthy, Montgomery is the next logical option to fill that void on third downs. He has the route-running chops and speed to make plays out of the backfield.
The Patriots saw what life was like on offense without a player who could truly threaten defenses out of the backfield (though Brandon Bolden performed admirably in White’s absence).
With Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson better suited for the first two downs and J.J. Taylor still unable to get on the field consistently, New England wasn’t about to go into this season without a backup plan for White.
What’s more: Montgomery can also contribute right away as a kick returner, provided he makes sure to take the easy touchbacks when he can get them.