Sizing up Free Agent Running Backs for Bears


At the stroke of 11:01 PM on Thursday night Chicago time, NFL teams will be making a mad dash at the Free Agent Market like crazed, turkey-stuffed shoppers bum-rushing a Walmart for a $200 laptop on Black Friday.

When you’re on a budget – and we know the Misers of the Midway always are – it’s best to do a little research before going on a shopping spree to be sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

Last season the second biggest disappointment for the Bears, besides Jay Cutler and his knack for throwing the ball to the other team, had to be Matt Forte.  You can blame the O-line or playing with a bum wheel, but the fact is that the Bears had no one to spell and/or compliment Forte.

Let’s assess the expected crop of Free Agent Running  Backs the Bears might consider to bolster their backfield:

Darren Sproles


This little waterbug is likely to be a hot commodity on the free agent market.  His diminutive stature (5’6″ and 185 lbs) makes it a stretch to think that he could be a primary back, so that might cost him a few bucks, but heading into an uncapped year, that will hardly make a difference.

Sproles i’s quicker than a hiccup and sometimes tougher to stop.  Mike Martz has wet dreams about this type of running back.  Can you imagine the screen plays he could run with him?  Would be the perfect compliment to Forte in the backfield and I can hardly imagine what Dave Toub could do with his unique talents on special teams?  

Chester Taylor

Taylor is another great complimentary back that could have a field day in a Mike Martz offense.  CT has been playing Robin to Adrian Peterson’s Batman for the last few years in Minnesota.   At 30, he’s hitting an age where you might normally get concerned about a running back, but since he’s served primarily as a backup the last few years, he’s got plenty of spring left in his step.  Another big advantage of signing Taylor is that you weaken the division rival Vikings.

Thomas Jones

Thomas Jones is probably the most under-appreciated back in the league.  First the Bears draft Cedric Benson when they already had a productive Jones in the fold.  Jones, with little help from Benson, leads the Bears to the Super Bowl.  Then the Bears dump him to hand the job to Benson to move up 20-odd spots in the second round of the draft.  Now the Jets are parting company with Jones after three seasons where all he did was tally nearly 4000 rushing yards and score 28 TD’s.  Are you kidding me?

I LOVE Jones, but I’m not sure he’s the ideal fit to go along with Forte in a Mike Martz system.  He’s not exactly known as a big pass-catching threat and doesn’t bring a different dimension compared to the incumbent Forte.  That said, bring back TJ for the right price and the rest will work itself out.

LaDainian Tomlinson

I’m hopeful the Bears learned their lesson about getting a future Hall of Famer too late in his career from the Orlando Pace experiment.  I hate to say it, but I think that’s the case with LT.  The dude is a legend and for a stretch a few years ago he was on another planet.  I’m afraid the Bears would be getting Shaun Alexander circa Washington Redskins late run and not the MVP from previous years.  I’ve already given my stance on LT, but with that said, for the right price and something to prove in a Mike Martz offense, you never know.

Brian Westbrook

Westbrook has been one of those guys that I always avoided in my fantasy football world because it seems like he’s injured every season.  When he’s healthy and on, he’s on.  Another great pass-catching option out of the backfield, you just can’t count on him.  Most recently on top of his various bodily ailments he’s suffered a couple of concussions.  With the sall that we’ve learned with regard to brain injuries, you’ve got to wonder if Westbrook would be better served hanging up the cleats.

So, what do you think Bears fans?

Which Free Agent Running Back would you like the Bears to target?

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Tags: Brian Westbrook Cedric Benson Chester Taylor Darren Sproles LaDainian Tomlinson Matt Forte Mike Martz Shaun Alexander Thomas Jones

  • City

    Hey Boomer!

    I totally agree with your assessment of TJ. It is absolutely rediculous that they couldn’t see how much he outclassed Bensen. Do all organizations choose 1st round draft picks over productive veterans like that? It seems like the perenial powers have coaches that recognize and reward talent over draft status (aka Patriots, Colts, Chargers).

  • Boomer

    Glad to see you back on the comments City. I think what’s worse for TJ is that now the Jets are sending him packing for their “next big thing,” Shonn Greene. Greene had a nice season, but TJ did nothing to earn his walking papers. I heard some of the Jets players are pissed about him getting cut. Sound familiar? With Jones’ luck, he’ll sign with a team and they’ll draft a rookie RB. Don’t be surprised to see him wind up in San Diego. Just my hunch.