Top Running Backs
Marion Barber, RFA, Dallas Cowboys
Dallas won’t let Barber go anywhere. He’s grown into one of the league’s best at gaining yards after first contact and runs with a mean streak. He rushed for 975 yards on 204 carries this season, boasting an average of 4.8 yards per rushing attempt. He was also able to play a role in the passing game with 282 yards receiving. He had 12 total touchdowns, following up his 2006 total of 16 touchdowns. The young running back could someday soon be the feature back in Dallas, and his 2007 Pro Bowl selection will not be his last.
Predicted 2008 Team: Cowboys – The team can’t afford to let him leave and he could likely be the number one back heading into next season.
Michael Turner, UFA, San Diego Chargers
Turner will hit the market, likely at the top of the available running backs list. Many teams will be interested in the services of “The Burner.” Turner would have a chance to start for some NFL teams, but in San Diego he sees limited action behind the stellar LaDainian Tomlinson. He’s just 26 years of age and averaged more than five yards per carry from the 2004 season through the 2006 season. He was limited this season because of the play of Tomlinson. However, with two career runs over 70 yards as a backup, including an 83-yard touchdown in ’05, Turner has shown that he can be a breakaway force on the field. He’ll get big dollars from a team looking for a new number one option.
Predicted 2008 Team: Panthers – Carolina needs a big back to pair with DeAngelo Williams, and Turner would likely be given the chance to carry most of the workload.
Julius Jones, UFA, Dallas Cowboys
The more that Marion Barber III showed he could be a successful back in the NFL while shouldering a larger load, the more expendable Jones has become. Jones has put up decent numbers early in his career, with over 1,000 yards in 2006 to go with four touchdowns. However, his touchdown totals have fallen each season as Barber has taken away most of his short-yardage carries. Jones scored just twice this season and totaled 588 rushing yards, his lowest career total. Jones will move on and look for a new team on which he can be the starter and get a larger share of the carries.
Predicted 2008 Team: Seahawks –Seattle may look to pickup a possible Shaun Alexander replacement immediately.
Derrick Ward, RFA, New York Giants
Ward filled in admirably for Brandon Jacobs this season. He was able to run for 80 yards or more during five different efforts this year, including a 154-yard effort against the Bears in week thirteen. Disappointingly, Ward was also knocked out for the season near the end of that game. He managed to find the endzone on three occasions during the season, and he was just shy of 800 total offensive yards. It’s hard to see Ward changing teams given his RFA status, but there could be a few teams looking to try and acquire him if the price isn’t too steep, and the Giants have the depth to let him go.
Predicted 2008 Team: Texans – He’ll be able to compete for a split of the carries.
Chris Brown, UFA, Tennessee Titans
Brown has battled injuries throughout his young career, and consistency has been a major issue as well, but he started off 2007 in a strong fashion. He ran for 175 yards to open the season and there was hope that he was in for a big year. However, his 46 yards in week thirteen was his second highest rushing total on the season. He has backed up LenDale White and done a decent job, but didn’t have the chance to run impressively as he did very early on. His upright running style is something he has worked to improve, and he was able to rush for over 1,000 yards in 2004, when he was still raw. Totals of 462 rushing yards and five touchdowns will earn him a backup role somewhere, if he doesn’t want to stay in Tennessee.
Predicted 2008 Team: Buccaneers – Brown could be a good back to spell Carnell Williams when needed.
Vernand Morency, RFA, Green Bay Packers
Morency headed into 2007 facing a knee injury, and he didn’t have a chance to play until week four. By that time, the Packers rushing attack had struggled mightily, and other backs were being given a shot. His 43 rushing yards and 48 receiving yards in week five was his best effort, but once Ryan Grant started and took over in week eight, the other Packers backs were relegated to the bench. The Packers could move on from Morency, or could retain him as a deep bench player.
Predicted 2008 Team: Green Bay – There will be little interest elsewhere, so Morency’s best option is to stay put as a backup with the Packers.
Other Free Agent Running Backs
Cedric Cobbs RFA Denver Broncos
T.J. Duckett UFA Detroit Lions
Noah Herron RFA Green Bay Packers
Maurice Hicks UFA San Francisco 49ers
Mewelde Moore UFA Minnesota Vikings
Artose Pinner UFA Minnesota Vikings
Musa Smith UFA Baltimore Ravens
Tyson Thompson RFA Dallas Cowboys
LaBrandon Toefield UFA Jacksonville Jaguars
Other Free Agent Full Backs
Mike Alstott UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brad Hoover UFA Carolina Panthers
Tony Richardson UFA Minnesota Vikings
Derrick Wimbush RFA Jacksonville Jaguars
Continue with top free agent WRs