Here we are again analyzing this special free agency class. This time, I want to take a look at the running back position. We have an interesting mix of elite talent, with one name in specific that should have tons of interest from dozens of teams around the league.
So, these are only some of the numerous RB’s hitting free agency this off-season, but these names (to me) are the ones that have the most impact and could potentially shift the power of offenses around the NFL.
Melvin Gordon: After a lengthy, dramatic holdout last
season I can’t see Gordon staying with the Chargers. Gordon wants to be one of
the highest paid RBs in the league, and the Chargers have proven to the rest of
the league that they are reluctant to do so- especially after a stellar breakout
season for Austin Ekeler.
Miami feels like the most logical landing spot. They have the cap space to
make a big splash in free agency, and have a real lack of talent at the RB
position after trading Kenyan Drake this past season. Here, Gordon would get
paid as the top dog, be the center piece of the rebuilding Miami team, and
certainly make the team better as a whole- both parties win with this move.
Austin Ekeler: Well, I sort of gave it away already- but it makes sense for Ekeler to stay put in LA. With (my prediction of) Gordon leaving, why wouldn’t the Chargers bring back their top rusher from last season? Especially with the team lacking a starting QB as of right now, they need to prioritize keeping the rest of their core together- starting with Ekeler.
Derrick Henry: Here is another case where I don’t see a guy switching teams. Henry was the most dominant rusher in the entire league last season and was the focal point of the Titan’s offense. I expect the Titans to expend their franchise tag on Tannehill, so look for them to work on a long-term deal with Henry. If they let him walk, I’m not sure how they’ll make up for his production- especially after a surprising AFC playoff run. Get it done Tennessee.
Lamar Miller: After season ending knee surgery before the start of last season, the Texans were without Miller for the entire season after a productive reign as the lead back the past few season. However, after trading for Duke Johnson (who produced well in BOB’s offense) and has a similar play style as Miller, I don’t see him re-signing with the Texans for next season.
Instead, I see Miller going to Buffalo. As a run-heavy offense in need of running-back (due to Gore becoming a free agent and the injury riddled season that rookie back Devin Singletary had last year), Miller fills in the production that Gore had in thta offense last season- and then some. Unlike Gore, Miller is a nice little weapon in the passing/screen game as well. He would be a nice fit to pair with Singletary, and can also handle a lead back role/production barring any injuries.
Matt Breida: Breida will be (in my eyes) a hot commodity on the free agency market. He was part of a three headed rushing attack in San Fran and was very productive, despite not being a clear-cut starter. After getting hot in the playoffs to help the Niners make the a Super Bowl appearance, many teams will seek the speedster’s assistance.
I could see him ending up with a team like Washington or Cincinnati who has a direct need at those positions and can pay him a nice contract- but, I honestly think that Indianapolis could swoop in and make a case as a perfect fit. Indy has a similar offensive scheme, a dominant offensive line, and a nice young defensive core that gives them playoff potential. I think the combo of Marlon and Mack as a 1-2 punch would be lethal under Frank Reich’s run scheme.
Chris Thompson: I honestly feel bad for Chris. He has been a super productive back on a super unproductive team. He is a big time dual threat guy who could add some spice to a contending roster.
With that in mind, I say Thompson ends up on the Chiefs. During last season, KC scooped up LeSean Mccoy to add some backfield depth and it didn’t really work out as he didn’t get many touches come the end of the season/playoffs. So, why not bring in a dual-threat back who can be used as a gadget alongside Tyreek Hill in Andy Reid’s crafty offense. They could get the vet fo cheap and he could make the KC offense even more dangerous (imagine that).
Coming soon; I plan on highlighting the best receivers (WRs and TEs) bound to hit the market. I also want to take a look at all the best defensive players available. (trying to squeeze everything in before free agency actually opens up.
Check out last week’s piece on the best free agent QBs!