RB/KR Benny Cunningham, Rams (5’10 | 210 | 26) – Bears HC John Fox has used two running backs his whole coaching career, so there is no reason to think that he won’t keep trying it with the Bears in 2017. Right now the Bears have one quality running back in Jordan Howard and that’s about it.
Jeremy Langford was a 4th round pick in 2015 who flashed talent as a rookie, but had a disappointing season in 2016 with a pathetic 3.2 yards per carry and a consistent problem catching the football.
The Bears need an upgrade at their 2nd running back, someone who can catch the ball out of the backfield, and also need a kick returner. Cunningham can fill all three roles for the Bears and won’t cost much.
As a running back, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry last season, has caught 87 passes over the last three seasons, and averaged 27.2 yards as a kick returner last season (3rd best in the NFL). Cunningham, just 26 years old, is one of those versatile backs who can do a little bit of everything and is also an excellent pass blocker.
With Todd Gurley locked in as the Rams bell-cow back and a new coaching staff that may not value Cunningham as much as the old staff did, he may be looking for a change of scenery. As a back-up running back / special teams weapon, he won’t cost much but could provide a significant return on investment.
It’s a stocked draft class at the running back position, so the Bears may go that route to back up Jordan Howard but even if they do… Cunningham would still provide plenty of value as the Bears 3rd running back and primary kick returner.
With soft hands out of the backfield and reliable blocking skills, Cunnigham would be an asset even as the third running back on the depth chart and could revitalize the Bears lackluster kick return game.
Cunningham has an aggressive running style with low pad level, shifty change-of-direction ability, and the power to be effective in short-yardage situations. He would have value just as a running back, but his toughness on special teams coverage units and production as a kick returner are just gravy for a player who will only cost a couple million per season.