After visiting with the Jets, the Dolphins and Washington, former Patriots running back Stevan Ridley agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Jets on Wednesday, according to a league source.
The Patriots were not in contention to keep Ridley, 26.
The former third-round pick out of Louisiana State, who missed much of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee against the Bills in Week 6, joins a New York backfield that includes Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell.
Ivory and Ridley are both between-the-tackles running backs.
But Ridley becomes the only Jets running back to have topped 1,000 rushing yards in a season, thanks to his 1,263-yard performance in 2012, when he averaged 4.4 yards per carry, with 12 touchdowns.
Before his injury last year, Ridley had 340 yards and two touchdowns on 94 carries.
The colorful Mississippi native — for a while he wore flannel one-piece pajamas and sported some of the brightest sneakers in the locker room — posted a message on Instagram after leaving New England.
“Sending love to all my day one fans and every teammate I’ve ever had the pleasure to take the field with,” he wrote. “We all know it’s a business, yet it’s also a blessing. So either way you see it, you’ll never understand. Love New England, Love my former teammates, and I’m truly thankful for the opportunity the Patriot organization has blessed with me. However it’s #ontotheJETS.”
The photo Ridley used had a Patriots fan, in a No. 22 jersey, but with “Ridley” written on tape and covering over another player’s name.
Ridley was harshly criticized for his fumbles, and he was benched toward the end of the 2013 season in Houston, a healthy scratch standing on the sideline in street clothes, holding a football in his arm.
The move came after his fourth fumble of the season, but even Ridley had noticed that he wasn’t even the worst offender on his own team, quietly noting to a reporter one day in the locker room that Julian Edelman had five fumbles to that point in the season.
The only difference — all of Ridley’s fumbles were recovered by opponents, while none of Edelman’s were.
Ridley had nine fumbles on 649 carries from 2011-14, the same number as LeGarrette Blount has over the same time period, but in just 503 carries. Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch has 16 fumbles on 1,181 carries; Buffalo’s Fred Jackson has 15 on 632 carries.
Ridley did what he could to try to curb the mistakes, reaching out to former teammate and mentor Kevin Faulk, who had some early career fumbling problems of his own. Ridley did not fumble in 2014.
With Ridley now gone, there are just two members of the Patriots’ nine-member draft class in 2011 still on the roster: offensive linemen Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon.