Projecting the financial market for some of the New England Patriots' top free agents:
Player: Stevan Ridley
Position: Running back
Age: 26 (birthday: Jan. 27, 1989)
Credentials: Proven starter in the NFL with a power-based style. A nose for the end zone as evidenced by his 22 career rushing touchdowns. Big-game experience. Productive with a career 4.3 average and a single-season best 1,263-yard season in 2012 when given the chance to serve consistently as the No. 1 back. Endured a stretch of ball-security struggles in 2013 and is coming off a torn ACL. Accountable to teammates.
Assessing the market: If Ridley wasn't coming off the torn ACL,Toby Gerhart's three-year, $10.5 million pact with the Jaguars in 2014 would be the range of the projected market. But the ACL clouds the picture slightly. One possible comparable is the one-year, $1.1 million contract Ahmad Bradshaw signed with the Colts in 2013. Bradshaw was coming off foot surgery in January of that year. If not for Ridley's injury, we'd also point to the one-year, $3 million pact Knowshon Moreno inked with the Dolphins last year ($500,000 signing bonus), as well as Chris Ivory's three-year, $6 million deal with the Jets, signed in 2013, that included a $2.25 million signing bonus. Shonn Greene's three-year, $10 million pact with Tennessee in 2013, which included a $2.5 million signing bonus, also is part of the market, as is Pierre Thomas' two-year Saints extension from 2014 that averages $2 million per season and included a $1.245 million signing bonus. LeGarrette Blount's two deals from 2014 are notable to a lesser degree -- his two-year, $3.85 million pact with the Steelers ($950,000 guaranteed) and then the two-year, $1.73 million pact with the Patriots after he was waived that included a $250,000 roster bonus in the second year.
Our take on Ridley's value: At a position where there aren't traditionally big deals, Ridley could be a coup for a team willing to bet on his ACL recovery. If he's thinking along the lines of a "prove-it" one-year deal, in which he can show he's healthy and still productive before getting another crack at free agency in 2016, that type of setup can be beneficial for both the player and team as long as they are working off the same script.
Projected contract: One year, $1.25 million; includes $250,000 signing bonus. Additional $1.75 million in incentives to potentially increase overall value to $3 million, which is market rate for a starting-caliber rusher.