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Offseason Position Spotlight: RB/FB

Inspecting the current state of the Patriots roster, with an eye toward the upcoming free agent signing period.


Patriots Running Back/Fullback Roster*: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, James Develin, Tyler Gaffney, Jonas Gray, Dion Lewis, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, James White


Ridley and Vereen remain on the roster for the moment, but come March 10, they might not be any longer. Both players, drafted in 2011, are set to become free agents. Vereen, after a stellar Super Bowl performance, reportedly is looking to cash in with a deal worth $5 million per season. If that's in fact true, he likely won't find such an offer here in New England.

Ridley, meanwhile, is coming off a serious right knee injury that cost him nearly all of last season, putting him in a less desirable bargaining position than he would have liked. And with Blount returning late last season and picking up seemingly where he left off in 2013, the Patriots proved they can win without Ridley as the lead back.

Gray must prove he was more than just a flash in the pan after his heroics in Indianapolis last November, but figures to be in the mix when spring practices start up. Wild cards here are White (who spent nearly all of 2014 as a game-day inactive), Lewis (signed post-Super Bowl to a futures contract), and Gaffney, a 2014 rookie who was on injured reserve the entirety of the season.

Bolden is almost exclusively a special teams workhorse, while Develin, according to QB Tom Brady, is among the best fullbacks in the NFL.

Potential Free Agents: Ridley, Vereen, Justin Forsett, DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore, Roy Helu, C.J. Spiller

Vereen's asking price may be too high not just for New England, but for the other 31 clubs as well. It wouldn't surprise me if he winds up back in Foxborough after all. I could also see Ridley being re-signed, but I don't envision a scenario in which both backs remain in Patriots uniforms.


If the team is looking to bolster its running back production (Gray led all Patriots ball carriers last year with 412 yards), they could do worse than Forsett and Murray, the main men in Baltimore and Dallas, respectively. They both may come at too costly a price, though. Gore is intriguing because, even though he's in his early 30s, he's been a durable, productive player for San Francisco, particularly in recent seasons.

Spiller is a versatile player on offense who can also return kicks, which might make him attractive to the Patriots, and Helu could be a suitable replacement for Vereen's third-down-back role.

Develin has developed quite nicely in New England's system, both as a blocker and pass catcher, so, I don't expect the Patriots to bring in another veteran to compete with him.

Bottom Line Here: This position is very much in limbo at the moment. No jobs are safe and almost everyone currently on the team has something to prove come training camp. There could even be some new faces added before practices resume.

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