The New England Patriots drafted running back Stevan Ridley in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft. Ridley was a key member of the backfield over the next four seasons, which included four straight AFC Championship games, two Super Bowls, and one title.
Ridley’s best year was his 1,314 yard, 12 touchdown 2012 season, but injuries and fumbles marred the rest of his time in New England. He tore his ACL halfway through the 2014 season and the Patriots opted not to bring him back in 2015.
The former LSU star signed on with the Jets for 2015, but didn’t add much to a crowded backfield that featured Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. He signed with the Lions this April, with general manager and former Patriots director of pro scouting Bob Quinn.
Ridley did not last the full summer and is now back on the market, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:
The Lions released RB Stevan Ridley today— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) August 25, 2016
The Patriots are rather thin at running back right now after news broke that Dion Lewis could miss the next 8-10 weeks.
New England could use some help with a grinder between the tackles, just like Ridley. While LeGarrette Blount is likely to make the team, Tyler Gaffney still needs to put forth a strong effort over the next few weeks to prove that can be a viable option in the backfield.
Ridley will always have questions about his knee injury and his history of fumbles- even though his career fumble rate of 1.26% is in line with other franchise running backs- but he is just 27 years old and knows the Patriots playbook.
I wouldn’t expect the Patriots to sign Ridley because if there were any interest, they probably would have traded for him, using a similar “conditional 7th round pick” technique that Washington used to acquire Bryan Stork to bypass the waiver wire.
Instead, I would expect the Patriots to sit on their hands until August 30th to gauge interest in running backs still on rosters to see if any can be acquired at a lower-than-expected price. The Titans, in particular, are pretty deep at the position and their general manager Jon Robinson is a former Patriots staffer; that’s where I would look for a potential Patriots acquisition.