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2012 NFL Free Agent Running Backs

By: Roshan Bhagat

Peyton Hillis (CLE) - Not to pin it on the fictitious Madden curse, but it should be noted that even when Hillis played last year, he wasn't nearly as effective as the year prior. For a while, it appeared as if he had made his way into the Browns doghouse, but has since seemed to work his way back into their good graces. They'll look to re-sign him, but only if the price is right. For a running back coming off a season where he averaged 3.6 a carry, the market won't show him too much love if that's where he's headed.

Mike Tolbert (SD) - Tolbert is a terrific utility back and unique at his size. He can give an offense a bit of everything, but above all, he's an extremely powerful runner that will punch in the ball from the 1 with consistency. The Chargers do like him as a complement to Ryan Mathews, but bringing him back to San Diego will depend on his asking price considering they should be able to re-sign Jacob Hester at a cheaper price.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE) - The Patriots made a pair of interesting moves last season by drafting Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Ridley served as an effective back-up to Green-Ellis while Vereen was largely invisible. Though Green-Ellis failed to replicate his success of 2010, he played a pivotal role in short yardage situations and near the goal line, scoring 11 touchdowns on the ground this year. It's tough to get a read on the Patriots, but his track record for toughness and dependability (0 career fumbles) would be tough to wave away.

Cedric Benson (CIN) - Sturdy, but unspectacular. Benson won't draw much buzz as a free agent, but will be able to contribute as a between-the-tackles runner somewhere. With interest, he shouldn't be tough to pry away from Cincinnati, who only offered him a one-year, incentive laden deal a year ago. With the prospect of giving Bernard Scott more carries and bringing in a more explosive rookie, their interest in Benson seems very tempered this year.

Michael Bush (OAK) - Bush has shown talent for a couple years serving primarily in back-up capacities. When Darren McFadden suffered an injury this yearĐas he often does, Bush filled in admirably with one bruising downhill effort after the other. While there would be heavy interest in free agency should he reach that point, there seems to be plenty of it at home where the Raiders need to place a high priority on a back-up to the oft-injured McFadden.

Ryan Grant (GB) - James Starks clearly emerged as the favorite early in the year, but when injury slowed Starks down, Grant managed to recapture some of the old magic and become a factor again. Even with last year's 3rd round pick coming off a season-ending knee injury, the Packers aren't expected to re-sign Grant with the cheaper Starks and Brandon Saine on the roster.

The Rest:
Chester Taylor (ARZ)
Jason Snelling (ATL)
Jerome Felton (CAR)
Tashard Choice (DAL)
Sammy Morris (DAL)
Spencer Larsen (DEN)
LenDale White (DEN)
Maurice Morris (DET)
Kevin Smith (DET)
Derrick Ward (HOU)
Jackie Battle (KC)
Thomas Jones (KC)
Le'Ron McClain (KC)
Steve Slaton (MIA)
Kevin Faulk (NE)
LaDainian Tomlinson (NYJ)
Rock Cartwright (OAK)
Ronnie Brown (PHI)
Owen Schmitt (PHI)
Mewelde Moore (PIT)
Jacob Hester (SD)
Justin Forsett (SEA)
Moran Norris (SF)
Jerious Norwood (STL)
Cadillac Williams (STL)
Earnest Graham (TB)
Ahmard Hall (TEN)
Tim Hightower (WAS)
LaRod Stephens-Howling (ARZ) - Restricted
Kahlil Bell (CHI) - Restricted
Chris Pressley (CIN) - Restricted
Lance Ball (DEN) - Exclusive Rights
Brock Bolen (JAC) - Restricted
Lex Hilliard (MIA) - Restricted
Lorenzo Booker (MIN) - Restricted
Isaac Redman (PIT) - Exclusive Rights
Brit Miller (STL) - Restricted
LeGarrette Blount (TB) - Exclusive Rights
Kregg Lumpkin (TB) - Restricted

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