Stevan Ridley knows he’s got an uphill climb ahead of him.

Stevan Ridley suffered a season-ending knee injury in an October win over the Bills. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Stevan Ridley suffered a season-ending knee injury in an October win over the Bills. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Stevan Ridley knows he’s got an uphill climb ahead of him.

The Patriots running back, who missed the bulk of the 2014 season because of a knee injury he suffered in October in a win over the Bills in Buffalo, told Sirius XM Radio on Friday evening that he’s aware of the challenge that faces him as he heads into free agency, but he’s embracing the process.

“I’m excited about it,” Ridley said. “As 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. Everybody 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.

“Where I’ll be playing and who I’ll be playing for is still unknown,” he added. “But I know I’ve come in and done my job up to this point. Now, I have to put it in my agent’s hands to get me on another team, or stay where I’m at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much, it will worry you sick.”

Ridley, who ran for 2,817 yards in four seasons with the Patriots — including 1,263 yards in 2012 — said he has no doubt he can become a productive player in the league again.

“I take it personal [when] anybody that says I can’t be a very productive player on whatever team I land on,” he said. “I’ve been playing ball my whole life, I’m going to come in and be a leader, and I’m going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I’m a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it’s all business and I plan on going out there and making plays.”

He also understands that he might not be playing in New England in 2015 for a few reasons, including the fact that the Patriots have several backs — including LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden and James White — already under contract for next season.

“Being in New England the last four years, four AFC Championships, two Super Bowl [appearances], that’s really hard to replace, to go to another team somewhere,” he said. “But going to another team could mean more opportunities, and could mean more carries, and could mean another team that doesn’t have the winning tradition that is up in New England and has been established there.

“For me, really I just want to be playing ball somewhere. That’s the big thing.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Kevin Williams (No. 94) tries to bring down LeGarrette Blount during Super Bowl XLIX. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Kevin Williams (No. 94) tries to bring down LeGarrette Blount during Super Bowl XLIX. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

When free agency begins in early March, there are a handful of players across the league who could appeal to New England. With the understanding that the status of these players could change because of the franchise or transition tag, here are a few possibilities for the Patriots to consider. We have to stress that all of these guys aren’t necessarily considered the elite of the free agent class — instead, they’re players we think would be a good fit in New England. We’ve already featured C.J. Spiller, Hakeem Nicks, Torrey Smith, Rahim Moore, Charles Clay, Jerry Hughes, Pernell McPhee, Orlando Franklin, Dane Fletcher, Roy Helu, Rey Maualuga, David Harris and Mike Iupati. Today, we wrap things up with Kevin Williams.

Kevin Williams
Position: Defensive lineman
Age: 34 (August 16, 1980)
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 311 pounds

The skinny: We’ve been down this road before with Williams, who considered retirement last spring before he ultimately decided to sign a one-year, $2.1 million deal with the Seahawks. That was after a brief flirtation with the Patriots, where he told a reporter New England should “look me up.” That led to a sitdown between Bill Belichick and Williams, and while the two sides never consummated the agreement — the Seahawks were apparently a little more enticing — there’s certainly a history there between the two which could come into play this offseason. The five-time All-Pro has spent 12 years in the NFL, 11 with Minnesota and last season with Seattle. The 6-foot-5, 311-pounder has been pretty durable over the course of his career, as he’s only missed 13 regular-season games since entering the league in 2003. Williams has 63 career sacks, including 8.5 in 2008. He’s not the overwhelming presence he used to be, but for a team looking for a rotational veteran to play a role up front, Williams could be that guy.

By the numbers: 445 — The number of snaps Williams played during the regular season for the NFC champions. Williams’ workload was likely heavier than initially anticipated because of an injury to starter Brandon Mebane. While Williams hadn’t played much nose tackle over the course of his career, he stepped in and did well as could be expected when it came to filling Mebane’s role on a situational basis over the course of the 2014 season.

Why it would work: There’s one every year — a massive defensive lineman near the end of his career who catches the eye of Belichick and the Patriots, who hope to squeeze one more good year out of him before he decides to hang them up. It’s a tradition that stretches all the way back to the likes of Anthony Pleasant, Keith Traylor and Ted Washington, and has continued with the likes of Albert Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis, Tommy Kelly and Alan Branch. (Sometimes it works, sometimes, it doesn’t.) Williams could very well be that guy for 2015. Last season, he showed he could work in a semi-reserve role with the Seahawks, and provided he stays healthy, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t fill the same sort of role in New England. Belichick has an affinity for him, and he certainly would be cost-effective. And for Williams — who played in his first career Super Bowl earlier this month after 12 seasons in the league — there’s more of a chance to finish off a career with a ring in New England than most other spots.

Why it might not work: He’ll be 35 before the start of the 2015 season, and there’s the very real likelihood that he’s tired of banging his head against a wall over and over again and would like to enjoy retirement. There’s also the legitimate question of how much he has left in his tank — while he’s been very durable, age and health have to be considered when talking about the possibility of signing someone like Williams at this stage of his career. And ultimately, there’s the question of fit: the Patriots have gotten some very good performances out of their young defensive linemen the last couple of seasons, particularly Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones. Do they want — or even need — to bring in someone like Williams?

Quote: “He went through the roster and basically explained where I could fit in with those guys. They had a lot of injuries and they have some veteran guys coming off of injuries that play tackle, and I would have a chance to compete for a position there. Either way, we’d have a good rotation, and have a chance to win some games.” – Williams, speaking with Sirius XM last June about his meeting with Belichick and the Patriots

Our take: Williams talked about retiring if the Seahawks had beaten the Patriots that night in Glendale, but now, it appears that things are up in the air. As we previously mentioned, the history between Williams and Belichick is there, and Williams would certainly come relatively cheaply. Bottom line? There’s enough familiarity there between the player and the team to think that if it does come together, it wouldn’t be an extended negotiation process. However, if Williams’ is signed, this feels like the sort of agreement that would come closer to the start of camp — as a veteran, he’d probably swing a deal where he’d be excused from a portion of the offseason workout plan.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Here’€™s our complete list of free agent possibilities for the Patriots we’€™ve profiled so far with links to each post, complete with a snapshot as to how each might fit in Foxboro.

C.J. Spiller
Hakeem Nicks
Torrey Smith
Rahim Moore
Charles Clay
Jerry Hughes
Pernell McPhee
Orlando Franklin
Dane Fletcher
Roy Helu
Rey Maualuga
David Harris
Mike Iupati

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Join Chris Price of WEEI.com to break down all things Patriots and the NFL, Friday at noon. Price will answer all your questions about the offseason, as well as the landscape of the league as some key dates draw closer.

Live Blog Chris Price Live Patriots Chat
 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Thursday during the Odin Lloyd murder trial it was learned Aaron Hernandez and the group he was with spent $273 plus $30 tip at a bar and was asked by the bar manager to stop smoking marijuana on the street outside the bar on the night of the murder.

Thursday during the Odin Lloyd murder trial it was learned Aaron Hernandez and the group he was with spent $273 plus $30 tip at a bar and was asked by the bar manager to stop smoking marijuana on the street outside the bar on the night of the murder.

Also shown to the jury on Thursday was a video showing Hernandez putting gas in his Nissan Altima and dancing in the parking lot — all this according to NECN’€™s Kathryn Sotnik.

Hernandez is being charged in the murder of Lloyd. The trial began Jan. 9.

Blog Author: 
WEEI
Offensive lineman Mike Iupati is expected to hit the free agent market next month. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Offensive lineman Mike Iupati is expected to hit the free agent market next month. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

When free agency begins in early March, there are a handful of players across the league who could appeal to New England. With the understanding that the status of these players could change because of the franchise or transition tag, here are a few possibilities for the Patriots to consider. We have to stress that all of these guys aren’t necessarily considered the elite of the free agent class — instead, they’re players we think would be a good fit in New England. We already featured C.J. Spiller, Hakeem Nicks, Torrey Smith, Rahim Moore, Charles Clay, Jerry Hughes, Pernell McPhee, Orlando Franklin, Dane Fletcher, Roy Helu, Rey Maualuga and David Harris. Today, it’s Mike Iupati.

Mike Iupati
Position: Offensive lineman
Age: 27 (May 12, 1987)
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 329 pounds

The skinny: A first-round pick out of Idaho in 2010, Iupati has become one of the best run blockers in the game, having received an All-Pro nod in 2012. Working as the left guard for the Niners over the last five seasons, he’s expected to hit the market early next month, and could command top free-agent dollars as the premiere offensive lineman available. (NFL.com’s list of top 25 potential free agents had Iupati seventh on the list, far and away the best offensive lineman.) There are flaws in his game — while he can overwhelm most defensive tackles with his size and strength, he’s not the best or most patient pass blocker. But given the market and his past resume when it comes to the power running game, expect Iupati to have plenty of suitors if he gets to March 10 without a new deal from San Francisco. He’s already been linked to the Redskins and the Dolphins, and that list should continue to grow as free agency nears.

By the numbers: 6 – After committing a career-high nine penalties in 2012, Iupati has been flagged for just six in the last two years, according to NFLpenalties.com. It’s one of the lowest totals for any offensive lineman who has played more than 1,800 snaps (according to Pro Football Focus) the last two seasons.

Why it would work: Iupati is a veteran left guard with an edge. He’s a mauler in the run game — Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus have consistently rated him as one of the best run blockers in the league the last few seasons, as he’s helped create wide-open running spaces for one of the best ground games in the league the last three seasons. That sort of toughness and veteran presence is always welcome in Foxboro.

Why it might not work: Iupati has had an impressive run with the Niners, but with one notable exception in Brian Waters, the Patriots have never gone after veteran offensive linemen, especially ones who are likely to command serious money so late in their careers. In that context, while he’s not necessarily injury-prone, a guard in his late twenties who missed four games in 2013 and one game (as well as a handful of snaps here and there) in 2014 could be a sign that a physical breakdown is coming sooner rather than later.

Quote: “We’ll see in a couple weeks or a couple months. It’s going to suck if I do go somewhere (else). This is my home. I really want to stay here, and I’m sure we’ll try to work something out.” — Iupati, when asked about his possible free agency following the end of the 2014 season

Our take: Iupati’s credentials as a run blocker are without question. He’s smart and tough, and given the expected free-agent market for offensive linemen, he’ll probably command a hefty payday, even with his occasional deficiencies when it comes to his pass-blocking skills. But when you take into account the presumed demand for his services, as well as his age and the fact that this is supposed to be one of the better drafts for interior offensive linemen over the last few years, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Patriots ultimately pass on Iupati’s services and look elsewhere for any potential upgrades along the interior.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Adrian Peterson is one step closer to playing in the NFL next season.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Judge Doty has overturned the Peterson decision and now the running back will now be reinstated into the NFL. He can instantly be traded, released or stay on the Vikings’ roster.

Adrian Peterson is one step closer to playing in the NFL next season.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Judge Doty has overturned the Peterson decision and now the running back will now be reinstated into the NFL. He can instantly be traded, released or stay on the Vikings’ roster.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable