With a young running back stable that already consisted of Ameer Abdullah, Zach Zenner, Theo Riddick, and George Winn, the Lions jumped at the opportunity this offseason to sign an experienced veteran in Stevan Ridley. Prior to the insertion of Ridley, the four backs already on the roster only had seven years of combined NFL experience. Ridley himself has been in the NFL for five years, and has run for a total of 2,907 yards and 22 touchdowns.
While his position on the depth chart is not yet set in stone, head coach Jim Caldwell sees a versatile player who can help numerous ways. “You know, I didn’t know what he was like when we saw him on several occasions, able to move and run and very, very talented guy,” Caldwell said via the Detroit Lions. “Like I spoke about yesterday, he’s one of those guys that can do a little bit of everything. But again, he’s coming along and he doesn’t show any signs of his injury and he’s working well, learning the system.”
Although he hasn’t exactly produced at the caliber he did before a 2014 ACL tear while playing with the New England Patriots, he won’t be relied upon to carry such a heavy work load in Detroit. A spectacular 1,263 yard and 12 touchdown season in 2012 set a high bar that he hasn’t since been able to meet since, but if he can at least provide stable depth at the running back position, the Lions should be satisfied.
Ridley signed with the New York Jets during the 2015 offseason, but didn’t make his debut with the team until their eighth game of the season. He played in the final nine games with the Jets, running for just 90 yards. His contract with the Lions is a one year pact worth $840,000, with $250,000 in guaranteed money.