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2009 NFL Free Agent Running Backs

By: Greg Davis

Derrick Ward, RFA, New York Giants
A huge rushing effort by Ward in week sixteen set him up to reach the 1,000 yard mark in the final game of the season, impressively giving the Giants two running backs to reach that mark this season. Ward made a statement in against Carolina in that week sixteen game, rushing for an astounding 215 yards on only 15 carries. He only reached triple digits in rushing twice, but he wound up averaging well over five yards per carry on the season while also playing a role as a receiving back with 41 receptions for nearly 400 more yards. Ward is twenty-eight years of age, and considering the thought that running backs lose steam after thirty, this could be his last significant contract. He may look for a team willing to expand his role or he could easily stay in New York, where he has become a quality back alongside Brandon Jacobs. With Jacobs also being a free agent, though, it will be an interesting offseason for the G-Men.

Dominic Rhodes, UFA, Indianapolis Colts
Rhodes will turn thirty in a couple of weeks and it appears he will remain a backup for the remainder of his career. He was an integral part of the Colts’ success during their Super Bowl run a few seasons ago, but he left for Oakland, only to return a season later. He has received limited carries during most of his time in the league, but he has filled in admirably when called upon. With Joseph Addai missing time this season, he carried the ball 152 times and turned it into 538 yards and six touchdowns. He also caught 45 passes for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. Rhodes will provide a decent third-down back and a veteran backup for any team looking to add depth on the free agent market.

Maurice Morris, UFA, Seattle Seahawks
Morris has always been a back under the radar—mainly because he was backing up Shaun Alexander for a period—but he has good vision and speed. He cracked the 100-yard mark in week twelve for the first time since week ten of the ’06 season and rushed for a season-high 116 yards against the Jets in week sixteen. He received limited carries, averaging 4.3 yards per rush, and he may be a useful backup come next season. Seattle has a lot of questions to answer and Morris may not be in the plans for the future.

Ricky Williams, UFA, Miami Dolphins
Williams showed flashes of the back that he was in his early days, but he was never quite as consistent as would be expected from a former fifth overall selection. His time away from the game and off the field issues certainly didn’t help him get back into the swing off things. Williams is over thirty and not likely to be a true starter with any team, but he gets a mention because of his controversial past and the fact that he gave Miami an extra option on the way to a playoff berth. There is a team out there that will take a chance on him if the Dolphins are unwilling to retain his services. Look for Williams to try and land somewhere as a backup.

Other Running Backs
J.J. Arrington, UFA, Arizona Cardinals
Cedric Benson, UFA, Cincinnati Bengals
Correll Buckhalter, UFA, Philadelphia Eagles
Jesse Chatman, UFA, New York Jets
Heath Evans, UFA, New England Patriots
Deshaun Foster, UFA, San Francisco 49ers
Rudi Johnson, UFA, Detroit Lions
Kevin Jones, UFA, Chicago Bears
LaMont Jordan, UFA, New England Patriots
Dominic Rhodes, UFA, Indianapolis Colts
Aaron Stecker, UFA, New Orleans Saints
Derrick Ward, UFA, New York Giants

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