Rhamondre Stevenson optimistic about contract talks with Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, said he has been engaged in negotiations with the team on an extension that could be nearing their end.

"Right now, I'm trying to get the deal done and get it locked in. We'll see where that goes. It's pretty close," Stevenson said Monday on the first day of the team's mandatory minicamp.

Stevenson was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft and has opened the past two seasons as the team's top running back. He has played in 41 games and totaled 2,265 rushing yards on 499 carries with 14 touchdowns. He has also caught 121 passes for 782 yards and one touchdown.

Under a new regime led by executive vice president of player personnel Eliot Wolf and first-year head coach Jerod Mayo, the Patriots have made it a priority to be a "draft and develop" team, and extending Stevenson's contract would further reflect that.

Stevenson, who is scheduled to earn a base salary of $3.116 million this season, said the sides have been engaged in talks for an extended period.

"It's not frustrating, but it's just a long process. This is my first time going through it, but just hearing from all the other guys, this is how it goes. It's a negotiation process, and I'm respecting the process," he said, adding that some free agent deals at the position might have strengthened his case.

"It's hard not to think about it. This is our career, our life and our future. But just staying disciplined and coming out here and working every day; as long as you do that, everything else should come with it."

The 6-foot, 227-pound Stevenson had his 2023 season cut short by a high ankle sprain in Week 13. The Patriots were eliminated from playoff contention at the time, perhaps lessening the urgency for Stevenson to return, as the team ultimately finished 4-13.

In spring practices, Stevenson has led a running back room that includes free agent signee Antonio Gibson, who inked a three-year, $11.25 million deal with the team after spending the first four years of his career with the Washington Commanders.

"I think he's one of the better backs in the league, no doubt about it," Mayo said of Stevenson. "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."