2013 NFL Free Agent Running Backs
By: Roshan Bhagat
Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) - With an extensive injury history, the Giants decided to part ways with Bradshaw, saving cap room and relying on David Wilson to shoulder the load. With another foot surgery that should sideline him until April, Bradshaw will have to buck a trend that has gone against veteran backs in free agency and may not even have a market until fully healthy. Preliminary comments from Bradshaw suggest that a return to the Giants isn't out of his mind, with the Jets drawing some interest as well.
Reggie Bush (MIA) - Looking for his final payday at the age of 27, there's no guarantee that Reggie Bush will return to Miami where he's revitalized his career amassing 2000 rushing yards over the past two seasons and 2600 from scrimmage. However, both he and the Dolphins have expressed preliminary interest in each other, which casts a shadow over whether the "prize" of the running back crop may even go on the market.
Shonn Greene (NYJ) - The combination of productivity, explosiveness, and youth is nowhere to be found in free agency after Reggie Bush. Greene has some of those characteristics and averaged 4.2 per carry over his career and is coming off back-to-back 1000 yard campaigns, but hasn't broken a run longer than 36 yards in his career. Keep in mind that if Greene hits the market, it will be because the Jets are looking for an upgrade, which only affirms his modest value.
Felix Jones (DAL) - With DeMarco Murray missing significant time to injury again, Felix Jones turned in his worst statistical year to date and still did nothing to prove wrong his injury history. Though he played in every game, he carried a lingering injury from week to week, masking the explosiveness that made him so dangerous as a rookie. Looking at Murrary's numbers drop from just a year ago, it's possible Jones was just stuck behind a poor line and the expected change of scenery could bring some excitement back to his game.
Cedric Benson (GB) - It took Cedric Benson an awful long time to find an interested team a year ago—only the running back-starved Packers were willing to give him a chance. A year later, there may not be much left for him if Green Bay decides to pass on Benson. Though he's received nothing but praise from inside the organization, backs on the downside of their career have become afterthoughts to an impressive infusion of young talent year after year.
Peyton Hillis (KC) - It's hard to tell if anyone will still buy into Hillis' 2010 season, but the list of suitors continues to diminish with each passing season. He's a bruising running back who gelled behind a good line and put up some unexpected numbers in Cleveland. Because he's only 26, he may get one more shot, but free agency wasn't kind to many running backs last time around.
Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) - Mendenhall is returning from a torn ACL, has been suspended a game for "conduct detrimental," and finished his season with 182 yards on 3.6 per carry. There may be some talent left in the former 1st round pick, but if he becomes a free agent, it'll be because a team that finish bottom 5 in yards per carry let him walk—not a good sign. Mendenhall could return to provide some surprise value, but he won't see a healthy payday right away.
Danny Woodhead (NE) - As a kick returner and passing down running back, Danny Woodhead has a niche that will draw interest. Shane Vereen looked okay at times and if the coaching staff believes he can fill Woodhead's role, he may be looking for a new employee, this time with an established brand.
Steven Jackson (STL) - RB - After voiding the final year of his deal with the Rams that was set to pay him $7 million, Steven Jackson will look to finish his career with a Super Bowl contender. During the Combine week, rumors connecting him to the Rams heated up while a team such as the Packers also makes sense. Though Jackson will be 30 heading into next year, he should see offers in the range of 3 years that could pay him close to $7 million a year in total compensation. With toughness and versatility in the passing game, Jackson is an intriguing option that could make an impact on the outcome of next season.
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