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With the New England Patriots coming to town this weekend to face the Vikings in their home opener at TCF Bank Stadium, there has been plenty of discussion surrounding the Vikings challenge of facing one of the best quarterbacks of all-time – Tom Brady. The New England Patriots front office is hard at work as they prepare to move on from their Super Bowl Championship 2014 season which culminated in a dramatic 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks and onto the hard decisions of the offseason.
The regional draft combines have already started and this week the showcase is the national NFL combine starting on February 17.
Free agency begins on March 7 with teams able to negotiate with unrestricted free agents and on March 10 at 4PM the league year begins and the players are officially able to sign with new teams. This caps a look at the internal free agents and cap numbers of salaried veterans in New England where tough decisions need to be made as far as roster management. At one point during the offseason, the Patriots did not have a running back under contract in 2015.
When the Patriots last went to the Super Bowl in 2011 they featured BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead as their primary and third-down running backs. With Ridley injuring his ACL and MCL in a horrific knee injury in week six against the Bills, the Patriots seemingly have moved on from the big and quick Ridley with Gray and Blount in place. Vereen is coming off his most productive run in New England as he stayed healthy throughout 2014 and had big games in the Super Bowl and against Baltimore in the Divisional Playoff round. Last year Ridley carried a $939,750 cap number while Vereen had a $1.1 million cap number in 2014. While Ridley may be forced to take a one-year contract to prove his health and re-establish his value, he is more likely to look for an opportunity where he can establish himself in the role of a number one running back. For Vereen, the Patriots may simply not be in a position to match what he will get on the open market.
With the drafting of James White in the 2014 NFL Draft and the signing of Blount, the Patriots may be content with their running backs and just draft or sign a back for depth. While it is possible that Vereen and Ridley return in 2015 to New England it is most likely that both will be in a new location.
Has there been a more under-appreciated running back in Wisconsin history than James White? An intelligent, durable and multi-talented running back -- he can run outside and between the tackles, catch out of the backfield (in 2013, he tied for the second-most catches on the team with 39) and pass block -- White has the ability to be a great complementary back and contribute significantly to the Patriots' offense. Reminiscent of former Badgers and San Diego Chargers running back Terrell Fletcher in his elusiveness and ability to contribute in a variety of ways, expect White to compete day in and day out in the NFL. Stephen Gostkowski #3 of the New England Patriots attempts a field goal during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York. They may not be the star-players like quarterbacks, wide receivers or running backs, but kickers can also apparently make the big bucks in the NFL. Gostkowski has only ever played for New England in his professional career, since they drafted him in the fourth round in 2006.
He’ll be looking to make it seven years in a row leading the league in scoring by the end of his brand new contract in 2019. PRIVACY POLICY Use of this website constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Guidelines. Job description - In an American football game, a running back has a responsibility, or assignment, on every play. Sunday should have been a joyous occasion for the Buffalo Bills with their exciting win over the Minnesota Vikings, 17-16. Bills coach Doug Marrone said after the game that Spiller will be out "for an undetermined time." The running back is scheduled to have surgery on the collarbone on Monday, a league source told ESPN's Adam Caplan. The NFL's oldest running back, 33 year old Fred Jackson, was injured on a relatively simple one yard dive play early in the second quarter.
They took a group of banking keywords to run through Twitter and wanted to analyze the results to see how much the fear of a bank run was being discussed on the popular social media site. You see, on September 14, 2015, the Minnesota Vikings were at TCF Bank Stadium taking on the New England Patriots.


When the results of the study came back to the Bank of England, they found the results of their study dominated by news of the Minnesota Vikings vs.
It’s nice to see the Minnesota Vikings dominate those search results, but it was the Vikings that were dominated during that game. And rightfully so, as Brady is 3-0 against the Vikings in his career and still has plenty left in the tank. Their extended post-season run created an abbreviated offseason causing the front office to cram a lot of decisions into the next few weeks to get to work on their offseason roster building. Internal free agents take priority as New England has a deadline of March 2 as far as applying the franchise tag to players who cannot work out a long-term deal and whom the team desires to keep off the free agent market.
The Patriots (and other 31 NFL teams) need to be under the salary cap by the start of the league year, so there is just a few weeks to get their house in order. Kicking off the six-part series was kicker Stephen Gostkowski, and part two looked at a trio of veteran contributors in wide receiver Danny Amendola, inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. However, the team drafted James White in the fourth round of the NFL Draft and later extended Brandon Bolden and re-signed LeGarrette Blount to a two-year deal after his release from Pittsburgh during the season.
Rookies Shane Vereen (26 snaps) and Stevan Ridley (192 snaps) barely found the field as rookies. With his 11 receptions against Seattle and 58 yards after contact out of the backfield as a receiver Vereen stepped up on a national stage–always good for a pending free agent. He may come back to New England on a one-year incentive laden deal, but he will have to have struck out in free agency first. More and more teams are looking for a receiving threat out of the backfield and Vereen fits the bill perfectly.
However, White played just three games and had nine carries in what was essentially a redshirt season for him. Remember B5Q's series from last summer about Wisconsin's best running backs in the NFL? The contract replaces a one-year, $4.59 million deal that Gostkowski received earlier this year. Since then, the Patriots have had the highest paid nose tackle (Vince Wilfork, 2010), quarterback (Tom Brady, 2010), guard (Logan Mankins, 2011), tight end (Rob Gronkowski, 2012) and now of course kicker (Stephen Gostkowski, 2015).
He has lead the NFL in scoring the last three years in a row, four times total in his nine-year career. Running backs may have the toughest job on the football field because they have to not only know every play like a quarterback, but also make physical contact on virtually every down. A two yard pass from QB Kyle Orton to WR Sammy Watkins and K Dan Carpenter's PAT with one second remaining completed the comeback. Spiller during Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings as both were carted off in the first half of the Bills' 17-16 win and didn't return. There’s much more for the Vikings defense to focus on when studying the Patriots offense than their future Hall of Fame quarterback. Part three got to the Pro Bowl secondary players looking at cornerback Darrelle Revis and free safety Devin McCourty. In 2012 Ridley broke through as the primary running back and in 2013 Vereen replaced Woodhead as the third-down running back in the offense.
However, Ridley may be limited this offseason as far as free agent offers as he will have to show he is healthy and ready to contribute in 2015. Vereen was a second round draft pick and Ridley was a third round pick and New England got good value from the duo of running backs. Remember, in the first five weeks of the season Ridley had two games where he had rushed for over 100 yards before injuring his knee.
With the Super Bowl performance fresh in their minds, Vereen is likely to garner a lot of attention this offseason. White will have to contribute immediately next season or the Patriots could be forced to look to free agency to replace Vereen.


Ridley may have a weaker market, but with the dearth of quality running backs someone will give him the chance to be the lead back in 2015. Did I mention he achieved all this while playing second fiddle to the likes of Montee Ball, John Clay and Melvin Gordon? In each of the last three seasons, Gostkowski has average at least nine points per game, and finished with at least 153 points each year. The holes, which are numbered, are the only things that tell the running back where he’s supposed to run with the ball. The win leaves the Bills only one game out of first place in the AFC East behind the New England Patriots. He limped to the bench before leaving the field on a cart, and will be out of action for four weeks. We shall see if the Bills can prove the theory that the running back position is devalued, and that a good passing attack is more important.
There’s Rob Gronkowski, who is working his way back from injury and, when healthy, is one of the most lethal pass-catching weapons in the NFL.
Part four addressed the mid-season acquisitions from 2014 in defensive tackle Alan Branch and linebackers Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas. Ridley did have some fumbling issues that limited his production and Vereen had injury issues which kept him from making more of an impact as a Patriot. Just 25 years old, Vereen has sure hands, runs routes well, can contribute on draws and short screens, and has shown he can run with vision and power after he catches the ball. New England will likely be forced to have their young backs step up and add depth through the draft and free agency in order to shore up the running back position. After Spiller followed Fred Jackson to the locker room, the Bills had only one other healthy running back, Anthony Dixon. He has played his entire NFL career in Buffalo, and has always been a positive influence on other players. There’s Julian Edelman, who was Brady’s favorite target last season, catching 105 passes for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns. Part five switched focus to the offensive line and potential free agent guard Dan Connolly and the big cap number of left tackle Nate Solder. The next month will be spent rehabbing, and helping the running backs that the Bills can find through trades or waivers. Finally, part six concludes the series with a look at the running backs from the 2011 NFL Draft as they hit free agency with Super Bowl star Shane Vereen and the injured Stevan Ridley. Vereen has far fewer carries the past two-plus seasons (133 attempts compared to 528 for Ridley) but he has 74 receptions compared to 18 for Ridley over the same span.
In fact, Vereen was third on the Patriots in receptions last season with 47, more than Gronkowski (39) and young, up-and-coming receivers Aaron Dobson (37) and Kenbrell Thompkins (32). In total last season, Ridley and Vereen combined for 1,470 yards from scrimmage, which represented 22.9% of New England’s output, and they accounted for 25% of the Patriots offensive touchdowns. Last week, Ridley led the Patriots in rushing attempts with eight while Vereen was right behind him with seven attempts. As one would expect, the order of preference switched in the passing game, with Vereen hauling in five receptions on eight targets and Ridley collecting two catches on two targets.
Interestingly enough, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who was the Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Coordinator last season, faced the Patriots in Week 6.
But that game can’t be used as a tool to forecast what may happen this Sunday because neither Ridley nor Vereen played in the game. They are both expected to play this Sunday, though, and you can be sure the Vikings will be keeping a close eye on both.



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