Stevan Ridley says he “has a lot to prove” and is looking forward to the free agency period. (USA TODAY Images)
As the Boston area finally bids adieu to the snowiest February on record, at least it began with a Super Bowl win. However, the area braces itself for another snow storm to start March off with a bang. So grab some coffee and relax, spring is just around the cornerâ€¦.here is the latest on Pats and AFC East news around the web.
Free Agent WR Market Opens Up: With the new league year just days from starting, there were three new names added to the mix of free agent wide receivers. The Miami Dolphins released Brian Hartline and Brendan Gibson on Friday, joining Harry Douglas of the Falcons who was also let go in salary cuts.
They join Ted Ginn of the Niners and Jacoby Jones of the Ravens who are all available on the market. Of course as with many free agents, rumors immediately begin to swirl as to the Patriots interest. None will command big money so the team could show interest in one of them to augment the wide receiving core.
Jones gets immediate attention as heâ€™s a guy that Bill Belichick has been very high on in the past and talked up prior to the AFC Divisional playoffs. He remains one of the most dangerous kick returners in the league. Although heâ€™s now 30, he still possesses excellent straight line speed and could be invaluable as a guy who can stretch the field vertically and provide, â€śthat deep threatâ€ť everyone keeps talking about.
Douglas will turn 31 in September but works out effectively out of the slot, so if the Patriots were to cut ties to Danny Amendola, Douglas could conceivably be the best fit. He caught 51 passes for 556 yards but only two touchdowns in 2014. The 6â€™0 tall Douglas will be intriguing to watch to see who picks him up.
Hartline is a guy who had back-to-back 1000 yard seasons in 2012 and 2013 but with the arrival of Jarvis Landry on the Dolphins, found himself the odd man out. The only downside to chasing the 6â€™2 wide receiver would be one of fit. With Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman fulfilling the same role, Hartline would be limited as he doesnâ€™t line up in the slot.
Ginn is mainly a specialist on kickoff returns with a limited scope as a wide receiver although he did catch 36 passes in Carolina from Cam Newton two seasons ago.
Ridley With Something to Prove: Patriots running back Stevan Ridley who is poised to hit free agency on March 10, was a guest of Pat Kirwan on Sirius XM Radioâ€™s â€śMovinâ€™ the Chainsâ€ť on Friday and was upbeat and looking forward to free agency.
â€śAs a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do,â€ť Ridley said. â€śEverybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract.â€ť
Ridley had a big 2012 rushing for over 1200 yards but fumbling issues in 2013 along with the arrival of LaGarrette Blount took away playing time. Ridley tore his ACL against Buffalo in Week 5 in 2014 and has been recovering and working himself back into shape.
That injury will no doubt hurt his pay day in free agency, be that with New England or elsewhere. But Ridley remains positive and seems ready to turn the page.
â€śFor me, really I just want to be playing ball somewhere. Thatâ€™s the big thing,â€ť RidleyÂ said. â€śThatâ€™s what I have to rely on my agent and make sure I have the right people around me to put me in that position. So Iâ€™m not really worried about where. I just want to be playing ball somewhere. I know that. â€ť On the subjects of running backsâ€¦.
Reggie Bush releasedâ€¦A safe option if Vereen signs elsewhere? This week the Lions released RB Reggie Bush who was hurt for the majority of 2014 and suffered thru a very subpar year for the much hyped RB who burst onto the scene in 2006 from USC.
We took a look at if Bush would be a fit if Vereen leaves in free agency as most people believe will happen. One thing to remember, when Bush was healthy in 2013, he rushed for over 1000 yards and caught 54 passes for over 550 yards more.
It will be interesting if the Patriots show any interest in the still talented free agent. He should get plenty of attention on the market.
The news and latest rumblings have been quiet on both the Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty fronts. The Patriots are rumored to be in negotiations with Revisâ€™ camp on a long-term deal and use the franchise tag on McCourty who stated publicly that he didnâ€™t have a problem with being franchised for 2015. Expect some news on both soon.
Eastbound and Downâ€¦..News from around the AFC East
Jets Coples Could be a Wildcard In Bowles System: NFL.comâ€™s Greg Cosell had a nice videoÂ on how he thinks new Jets coach Todd Bowles has an interesting piece for the Jets defense in Quentin Coples.
Spiller on the Gang Green Radar? Look for the Jets to be one of the teams looking hard at C.J. Spiller in free agency. Theyâ€™re rumored to be one of the teams courting him looking to replace Chris Johnson. With Chan Gailey running the offense, the Jets could have Spiller operating (if healthy), at a high level.
The Jets are also looking for cornerback help both in the draft and in free agency and a couple of names to watch will be Kareem Jackson from the Texans and Byron Maxwell of the Seahawks.
Dolphins revamping WR position: In a salary dump move, Miami cut WRs Brendan Gibson and Brian Hartline. They are also actively trying to trade Mike Wallace and get rid of his $10 million dollar cap hit as well as his underachieving performance.
With TE Charles Clay a free agent, Miami is left with Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews. The Dolphins went from a deep, downfield passing team in 2013 to a short passing game last season and really need a guy who can give them YAC (Yards after catch), and in free agency a couple of names to watch are the Packers Randall Cobb or the Eagles Jeremy Maclin.
The immediate priority will be to re-sign Clay and then sign a WR and find one in the 2015 NFL Draft.Â Hakeem Nicks and Cecil Shorts are two other names rumored to be on the Dolphins radar.
Chock this one up to his usual subtly, but whenever Bills coach Rex Ryan does something, it is usually done with the all in approach. So while his tattoo may need covering up, his ride says heâ€™s all Buffalo.
Ryan is sporting a new pickup truck with a Bills logo blasting out of red and blue streaks. Rex is declaring his love of everything Buffalo with this move and so far the city is responding favorably. Now he has to take them to the post-season.
With the Browns move of moving on from Brian Hoyer and signing Josh McCown whom the Bills courted, Hoyer may be on the short list of QBs that the Bills may be interested in. A reunion between Ryan and Mark Sanchez could also be happening as well. Look for another former Patriots backup QB, Matt Cassel to possibly be on the move there.
The Bills are also reported to be in long-term negotiations with Jerry Hughes. The Bills have until Monday at 4 p.m. to use the franchise tag on Hughes or re-sign their pass rusher before the March 10 beginning of Free Agency or heâ€™ll hit the open market.