How many ex-New England Patriots running backs reside on 90-man rosters around the NFL?
That inquiry was sparked as another back from New England’s past – a certain former second-round draft choice who went on to catch 11 passes in Super Bowl XLIX – landed on the league’s transaction wire earlier this week.
And for now, that brings the answer to seven.
Here’s the rundown as training camps begin to open.
Travaris Cadet, Bills – Undrafted out of Appalachian State in 2012, Cadet spent his first three seasons with the New Orleans Saints and served as both a core special-teamer and receiving back. Cadet signed with New England in March 2015, though a hamstring injury limited his chances at carving a similar role. He appeared in one game, catching one pass for two yards, before being waived. Cadet has since made stops with four teams – including a reunion with the Saints – and has been with Buffalo since last November. The 29-year-old re-signed with the Bills this offseason after his 2017 ended with a dislocated ankle suffered versus New England in Week 16.
D.J. Foster, Cardinals – Signed by New England as a priority free agent out of Arizona State, where he played both running back and wide receiver, Foster went on to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster in 2016. The rookie appeared in three games – with a brief stint on the practice squad in between – handling seven carries for 24 rushing yards, one catch for two yards, as well as one kick return for 30 yards. Foster cleared waivers to begin 2017 and was retained on the scout team. But Arizona signed Foster to its active roster after Week 1. Foster went on to play in seven games for the Cardinals last campaign, posting 19 rushing yards, 133 receiving yards and 184 kick-return yards.
Trey Williams, Cowboys – In December 2015, the Patriots claimed Williams, an undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M, off waivers from the Cowboys. And fourth-round defensive end Trey Flowers was placed on injured reserve as the corresponding move. Williams would be waived and signed to New England’s practice squad 11 days later, but released outright soon after. Williams has since been a member of four NFL teams – appearing in two regular-season games for the Indianapolis Colts – as well as the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts. He has been in Dallas on both the practice squad and 53-man roster since last November.
Dion Lewis, Titans – One of three reserve-futures signings announced by New England on the New Year’s Eve back in 2014 – alongside defensive linemen Antonio and Rufus Johnson – Lewis had not played in regular-season game since New Year’s Eve’s eve in 2012. But the ex-Philadelphia Eagle, Cleveland Brown and Colt went on to accrue 2,109 yards and 13 touchdowns from scrimmage over 30 for the Patriots. Lewis ran back the first kickoff for a touchdown since safety Devin McCourty in 2012, as well, and had another during New England’s 2017 playoff run. He signed a four-year, $19.8 million contract with Tennessee in March.
LeGarrette Blount, Lions – Between Blount’s two tours with the Patriots, he played in 49 regular-season contests to rack up 677 carries for 2,917 yards with 34 touchdowns on the ground, to go with 19 catches for 137 yards and one TD through the air. Once part of the Jeff Demps trade, the 6-foot, 250-pound back also returned 17 kickoffs for 494 yards. Blount collected two Super Bowl rings during his Patriots tenure, and gathered another one against them with the Eagles in February. New England’s single-season record-setter in rushing touchdowns signed a one-year deal with Detroit in free agency.
Stevan Ridley, Steelers – Drafted in the third round by New England back in 2011, Ridley proceeded to post a 1,263-yard, 12-TD season as an NFL sophomore. The LSU Tiger finished his time in New England having played in 52 games. He amassed 649 carries for 2,817 yards with 22 touchdowns, along with 23 catches for 146 yards and seven kick returns for 152 yards along the way. Ridley has been on seven teams since tearing his ACL and MCL with the Patriots in October 2014, but has seen snaps beyond the preseason with just three. He enjoyed a renaissance with Pittsburgh late in 2017, however, capped off by an 80-yard performance that ended in the end zone. It marked Ridley’s first regular-season touchdown in 1,183 days.
Shane Vereen, Saints – The latest of the seven is Vereen, who agreed to terms with New Orleans on Wednesday. Drafted one round before Ridley in 2011, the Cal Bear played in 42 regular-season games for the Patriots, rushing for 907 yards and seven touchdowns on 217 carries, reeling in 1,023 yards and seven scores on 107 catches, and also running three kicks back for 66 yards. Vereen, now 29, left on a three-year, $12.35 million contract with the Giants following Super Bowl XLIX.
Danny Woodhead’s retirement in March after spending 2017 with the Baltimore Ravens, as well as as George Winn’s release from the Colts with the failed-physical designation a month later, are among the recent departures from the current tally.
LeShun Daniels Jr. and Bishop Sankey, who suffered a torn ACL last preseason, are also free agents.