The Patriots under Bill Belichick have frequently utilized a merry-go-round of sorts at the running back position, leading to matchup confusion for opposing defenses and perennial consternation for fantasy owners. But out of all the backs to come and go over the years, Stevan Ridley is one of the more intriguing talents. Ridley had a breakout campaign in 2012, compiling 1,263 yards on 290 attempts (4.4 YPC) and crossing the goal line 12 times. He received fewer opportunities in 2013 but still played well, but in 2014 his season was cut short by a torn ACL and MCL that he sustained in early October.
The 26-year-old free agent therefore enters the free agent market as something of an unknown commodity, albeit one with a great deal of upside. As Christopher Price of WEEI.com writes, Ridley will likely have to accept a one-year deal to reestablish his value, but he could represent a steal for a team looking to plug a hole in its backfield. As we learned several days ago, Ridley is not likely to return to New England, and the Vikings and Cowboys have been rumored as potential fits. He is expected to make his first free agent visits this week, and he could simply be waiting for the Adrian Peterson situation to be resolved before choosing his next home.
Let’s have a look at a few more notes from the league’s east divisions:
- Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com passes along news on Patriots linemen on both sides of the ball. Although he does not hear that there is any long-term concern about Chandler Jones‘ health, the fact that Jones is still walking with the aid of crutches and is on more of a rehab track than a regular offseason workout track is worthy of note. Reiss also says that free agent guard Dan Connolly has not received a ton of interest from other clubs, so he and the Patriots–who were willing to let Connolly establish his value on the open market–are in a holding pattern. Without Connolly, though, New England’s guard depth looks fairly thin.
- Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com believes new Jets head coach Todd Bowles is sending mixed messages with his statements regarding the team’s quarterback situation. While Bowles has said that it’s hard to get a feel for Geno Smith, he added that Smith will get the majority of first-team reps when training camp opens. Cimini believes it should be an open competition between Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
- Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com takes a look at whether there are players other than Marcus Mariota who would make Washington‘s No. 5 overall pick a hot commodity. Tandler believes Kevin White or one of the draft’s premier edge rushers could garner some interest from other teams looking to trade up.
- On the topic of young wideouts, Tandler believes that if Washington selects Kevin White or Amari Cooper with their No. 5 pick, the team could look to deal Pierre Garcon to a receiver-needy club either during the draft or in training camp.