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Free agency preview: Running backs

[Editor's note:  This is the seventh in a series of position
snapshots previewing the 2010 NFL free agency period.  Check out the quarterbacks, tight
ends
, offensive linemen, defensive
linemen
, linebackers and defensive
backs
.]

Top unrestricted free agent running backs:

1. Darren Sproles: He may not be a workhorse, but Sproles is a true difference maker on passing downs and returns.  Unlike the rest of this list, he’s in his prime. It will be difficult for the Chargers to keep him.   

2. Thomas Jones: The guy can do everything well, if nothing great at this stage in his career.  Jones would benefit from a decreased workload.

3. Chester Taylor: A terrific third-down back that can start on occasion.  He’s the same age as many backs here, but has far less mileage on his legs.

4. Willie Parker: Slowing Down Willie Parker doesn’t have the same ring to it.  He can’t help on passing downs, but could still be a capable backup.  Don’t expect a return to Pittsburgh.

5. Brian Westbrook: The concussion issue looms over any signing.  If he gets clearance to play, we still think he could help a team.

6. LaDainian Tomlinson: Will he truly be happy with a secondary role? Tomlinson fits best now as a situational third-down back.
 
7. Larry Johnson: The diapers are off.  In running back years, he’s not far from Depends.

8. Kevin Faulk: The godfather of third-down backs could be attractive to Belichick disciples.

9. Mike Bell: He’s a restricted free agent, but can be acquired without giving up a draft pick.

10. Jamal Lewis: He seems open to playing again, but probably won’t get a deal.

Restricted free agents that are unlikely to change teams:

Carnell Williams, Jerome Harrison, LenDale White, Jerious Norwood, Jason Snelling

Interesting name that could get cut:

Clinton Portis: He should be safe until training camp because most of his salary is guaranteed. 

Trade Possibilities:

1. Marshawn Lynch, Bills: He’s got a well-rounded game and could use a fresh start.

2. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins: Is it that crazy to give up a first-round pick for Brown?  That’s what he’d cost as a restricted free agent.

3. Leon Washington, Jets: A team would have to give up a second-round pick for Leon, which probably won’t happen.  The Jets would likely match any offer sheet anyhow.

4. Michael Bush, Raiders: He’s the most intriguing Raiders back, yet oddly seems like the one most available.  Oakland should hang on to Bush.

5. Marion Barber, Cowboys: The Cowboys say they won’t deal him, but a move makes a lot of sense.

6. Pierre Thomas, Saints: He would only cost a second-round pick to get, but we suspect the Saints would match any offers.

Teams in the market for RBs:

San Diego, Detroit, Washington, Cleveland, Chicago, Seattle, Houston, Minnesota, New England, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
 

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7 Responses to “Free agency preview: Running backs”
  1. ICDogg says: Mar 4, 2010 9:18 AM

    Surprised you didn’t mention McGahee as a trade possibility.

  2. packerswin says: Mar 4, 2010 9:22 AM

    The Packers are going after Washington. TT really likes him and giving up a 2nd for a difference maker like him is not too much.

  3. 4ever19 says: Mar 4, 2010 9:40 AM

    Colts should be in market for a back to share time with my dawg Jo-Add. Donald Brown doesn’t look like he can get it done. What about Mr. Jones or C-Taylor? I like it.

  4. jlbay says: Mar 4, 2010 12:22 PM

    Look for Philadelphia to make a run at 1)T. Jones, 2)C. Taylor and 3)D. Sproles in that order. They need a vet to compliment McCoy and Weaver (if they successfully sign him prior to becoming an URF), more of a third down back who can catch the ball and pick up the blitz . . . that skill set requirement coupled with the fact the order I listed happens to be the reverse order of what these three will get paid, fits the Eagles M.O. perfectly.

  5. Anti Mouthbreather says: Mar 4, 2010 1:57 PM

    Um, isn’t Dave Meggett the godfather of third down backs?

  6. Anti Mouthbreather says: Mar 4, 2010 1:58 PM

    And how are the Bears in the market for an RB but NOT a WR? Were these teams picked with a dartboard?

  7. PhillyBen says: Mar 4, 2010 2:44 PM

    @jlbay I think you have Eagles down to a science in terms of going after the guys who cost less and also what they “think” they need.
    However, what they really need is a back to pound between the tackles not a 3rd down back like Sproles, who the Eagles will not even go after. Weaver is our blocking back and is a very good receiver as well. McCoy adds the elusive quality to our stables. What’s missing is the 3rd & 1, gets it everytime power back. We tried Weaver in that role, but you can’t expect the guy to lead block on running downs, pass block on passing downs, and then have enough juice to get those tough yards come the 4th quarter.
    Thomas Jones makes sense, but so does Mike Bell who I believe is a great fit for us. If not in free agency or a trade, Big Ben Tate could be the Iggles guy in the draft as we have plenty of picks in the 3rd and 4th round, especially after we trade Vick for one.

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