There have been many NFL rumors this offseason including New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew. With the Jaguars stating that they are willing to part with their star and the Patriots making little to no progress in contract talks with Welker, there was speculation of a possible deal between the two teams.
One concern for the Patriots going into the 2012 offseason was the running back position. Starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis departed for Cincinnati Bengals leaving the job between two second year players in Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. With uncertainty if either could handle an NFL starting job and the Patriots being legitimate Super Bowl contenders, many wondered if the team should attempt to make an upgrade.
Wes Welker has become a star in New England. After coming to the Patriots, the small receiver has been selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls and been named All-Pro twice. But negotiations on a contract extension have been slow and he was given the franchise tag for the 2012 season. After signing his franchise tender, Welker confirmed that negotiations were not going well fueling speculation that he may not be around much longer.
Rumors of a deal between the Patriots and Jaguars sending Welker to Jacksonville for Jones-Drew began to heat up when the Jaguars announced that they’d be willing to part with their star running back. But now it looks as though that deal is as unlikely as ever. After picking up a slight injury in practice, Ridley is back and looked very strong Friday night in the Patriots third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gaining 87 yards on 16 carries, Ridley also caught three passes for 17 yards showing his capability of carrying the ball and being a force in the passing game. In addition to that, Ridley’s pass protecting has shown improvement.
Due to the Patriots policy of not discussing team activity in public, nobody really knows how close the team got to acquiring Jones-Drew. But with Ridley’s performance both in practice and Friday night, it looks as though team is content with him as their starting running back. Because of that the team can now focus on more pressing issues such as a sub-standard offensive line.