Prior to the New England Patriots' addition of Stanford rookie Tyler Gaffney off of waivers from the Panthers yesterday, the only high-upside running back the team had under contract past 2014 was fellow rookie James White. Gaffney's addition has shined the spotlight on the future of the position past 2014:
James White: The 4th round draft choice out of Wisconsin is undersized at 5'8", but has impressed early in camp and has flashed potential as a three down back. At a minimum, he looks like a nice change of pace back who can catch the football. He certainly could be more than that.
Stevan Ridley: Ridley is still expected to be the team's starter in 2014, and will probably take the majority of the team's first and second down reps. However, this could very well be his last season in a Patriots uniform. If he has a great season, considering the value the Patriots place on early-down backs, he'll likely sign elsewhere. If he underwhelms, the Patriots will probably move on.
Shane Vereen: Of the three Patriots backs heading into the final year of their contracts, Vereen looks the most likely to receive an extension. After getting banged up last season, Vereen has a chance to break-out in 2014, as both a pass catcher and runner.
Brandon Bolden: Bolden has underwhelmed in training camp thus far, particularly struggling in the receiving game. Bolden isn't a bad back and he runs with excellent leg drive, but his upside is probably as a number two or three back in this league.
Tyler Gaffney: Although he won't play in 2014 due to a torn meniscus, Gaffney has the size, toughness and athletic traits to make it as an early-down back in the Patriots' system. His production at Stanford as a senior was certainly intriguing. He isn't a sure thing in 2015, but his presence adds a layer of depth at the running back position for the future.
Others: Roy Finch, Jonas Gray, James Develin (fullback)
What are your thoughts on the Patriots' future at the position?