Nearly one month into free agency, Stevan Ridley finally has a new home. NFL Network was the first media outlet to report that the former Patriots ball carrier had signed with the New York Jets. Subsequent media reports confirmed the news, and Ridley's agent announced via Twitter, "Excited for our man @StevanRidley on agreeing to terms with #Jets today. Knee is looking great and will be ready to go!"
That last line, of course, alludes to Ridley's season-ending right knee injury that he sustained in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills last season. That proved to be Ridley's final action as a Patriot after four star-crossed seasons in Foxborough.
Ridley was selected by New England in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the very next pick by the club after they chose fellow running back Shane Vereen in Round 2. While Ridley emerged as the team's top rusher and was particularly successful in goal-line situations, his career with the Patriots was marked by a number of high-profile fumbles and subsequent demotions – an unfortunate twist of fate for one of the more genuinely likeable players in the locker room.
Both Ridley and Vereen are now playing in the Big Apple, with Vereen having inked a deal with the New York Giants at the start of the free agent signing period in mid-March. Unlike Vereen, however, Ridley's contract is said to be a one-year, so-called "prove-it" pact, perhaps because of the uncertainty surrounding his recovery from knee surgery.
New England now has some roles to fill at running back. LeGarrette Blount will likely be the incumbent starter, despite facing a one-game, league-imposed suspension to start the 2015 season (Blount violated the NFL's substance abuse policy during his brief stay with Pittsburgh last year). He has been the Patriots' go-to ball carrier, particularly down the stretch the past couple of seasons.
In addition, the Patriots signed free agent Travaris Cadet from New Orleans last month, and second-year man James White, a 2014 draft choice who was mostly inactive as a rookie, should expect to get his opportunities this spring and summer when the club resumes practices. It's conceivable as well that New England could add more depth at running back in the upcoming draft later this month.