After the Detroit Lions released Joique Bell over a month ago, many wondered how the Lions would fill his roster spot. Would Detroit go after one of the biggest free agency names like Chris Ivory or even Matt Forte? After a month of nothing, the Lions finally appear to have interest in a free agent back:
Stevan Ridley's connection to Lions general manager Bob Quinn is obvious. Ridley was drafted by the Patriots in 2011 in the third round. At the time, Quinn was the assistant director of pro personnel. So while Quinn may not have had a direct hand in drafting Ridley, he was well aware of his talent over the next four years of his professional career.
Ridley is a crushing back made in the same mold as Bell. In fact, they are both the same height (5-foot-11), although Ridley weighs a bit less (220 pounds to Bell's 231).
Ridley is coming off a one-year stint with the New York Jets that saw his worst year in terms of production. Ridley entered the year after having surgery for a torn ACL and MCL suffered in October of 2014. He didn't make an appearance until Week 10 and only had 90 yards on 35 carries down the stretch.
Pre-injury, Ridley was a very competent back. In 2013, Ridley ran for 773 yards at 4.3 a carry and found the endzone seven times. A year before that, Ridley had 1,263 yard and 12 touchdowns.
If Ridley can recapture some of that magic and can prove he is fully healthy, he could be a younger, better option than Bell. Ridley is only 27 and should come at a low-cost, "prove-it" contract.