Top Potential Free Agent Running Backs
In what could be the strongest free agent running back market in recent memory, that includes five former first round picks, three 2015 Pro Bowlers, and the possible additional of Adrian Peterson, several teams may be looking to make major changes to their running back personnel this offseason.
1. DeMarco Murray:
After rushing for 1,845 yards in 2014, it’s easy to see why Murray is a top commodity among running backs. Though it’s hard to see the Cowboys letting him go, the team’s top priority this offseason will be to sign Dez Bryant long-term. While I think it’s a long shot, it’s certainly possible that Murray enters the open market if Dallas is forced to use their franchise tag on the passionate wide receiver.
2. Mark Ingram:
Ingram posted career highs last season in rushing yards, receiving yards, and rushing touchdowns despite playing in just 12 games. He put up four 100 yard games after having just one in his first three seasons in the NFL . The former University of Alabama running back finally showed his first round pick potential and he could easily serve as a starting running back on a number of teams including the Saints.
3. C.J. Spiller
Spiller was picked 12th overall in 2010, the year after Chris Johnson ran for 2,000 yards, as comparisons between the two were a constant on Draft Day (Spiller: 5’11”, 40 yard dash time: 4.37, Johnson: 5’11’, 40 yard dash time: 4.24). However, Spiller career has not been met with the same success as Johnson as he has just one 1,000 yard season to his name and has struggled with durability and consistency as a running back. In the end, his skill set and homerun potential should make Spiller a definite target for teams looking for depth, talent, and most of all, speed at the running back position.
4. Justin Forsett
Justin Forsett, the breakout veteran of 2014 set career highs in rushing attempts, yards, and touchdowns as he led the Ravens rushing attack following Ray Rice’s departure. After rushing for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns last season, he’s certainly due a pay raise after receiving just $730,000.
5. Ryan Matthews
Probably the most injury-prone running back out of this entire group, and that’s saying something. He’s missed a total of 20 games throughout his four-year career and after missing a huge chunk of 2014, the Chargers will likely move on from their 2010 first round draft pick. After seeing Michael Turner, Mike Tolbert, and Danny Woodhead all have successful careers upon leaving San Diego, I believe Matthews could be a valuable asset at what I imagine will be a very reasonable price.