Next year’s running back market stands to feature a glut of starter-caliber options. Even if the Giants and Raiders respectively keep Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs from hitting free agency, potential first-time free agents Miles Sanders, Tony Pollard, David Montgomery, Damien Harris, Devin Singletary and Alexander Mattison are unsigned through 2023. Ditto Kareem Hunt, who is expected to hit the market after the Browns held off on a deadline trade. Jeff Wilson and Jamaal Williams would also be intriguing second-go-round UFAs, but the Panthers have a player in a similar position.
D’Onta Foreman signed a one-year, $2MM deal to relocate from Charlotte to Nashville this offseason, and he has continued his Titans pace. Christian McCaffrey‘s replacement, who ended up being Derrick Henry‘s top fill-in last year, now has seven 100-yard games over his past 13. Teams are monitoring the former third-round pick’s status, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. The Panthers have Chuba Hubbard signed through 2024, and although they are likely to change coaching staffs come January, Foreman makes sense as a re-sign candidate. Despite being a 2017 draftee, he is just 26. And thanks to a lengthy hiatus that covered much of a three-year stretch from 2018-20, the ex-Texas Longhorn only has 366 career carries. That bodes well for more quality seasons being ahead.
Here is the latest from the NFC South:
- Casey Hayward has been on IR since mid-October; he has been eligible to return for a bit now. But the Falcons cornerback is not a lock to come back this year, per AtlantaFalcons.com’s Scott Bair, who notes the 11th-year veteran underwent shoulder surgery after hitting the injured list. Hayward and the Saints’ Chris Harris are the NFL’s oldest active-roster cornerbacks, at 33, and the former represents a key defender for a team gunning for an unexpected division title. Hayward signed a two-year, $11MM deal to come over from Las Vegas. The Falcons have used second-year man Darren Hall in his place. Pro Football Focus does rank Hall, a fourth-round pick out of San Diego State, 35th overall among corners this season.
- The Buccaneers are expected to be without Tristan Wirfs for a bit because of a high ankle sprain. While the team is hoping the All-Pro right tackle can return in three or four weeks, Fowler adds the third-year blocker could be facing a five- or six-week absence. Some ligament damage occurred, per Fowler, but Wirfs is not expected to need surgery. This timetable would put run up against the end of the regular season, though the Bucs have not placed Wirfs on IR yet.
- Whereas Foreman’s free agency stock is rising, Baker Mayfield‘s keeps tumbling. Steve Wilks announced Sam Darnold will start in Week 14 against the Seahawks but stopped short of declaring Mayfield the backup, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Mayfield’s QB2 status depends on P.J. Walker‘s health, according to Wilks. This certainly points to Wilks having more confidence in the ex-XFLer. Despite pushing for Offensive Rookie of the Year acclaim and playing a lead role in snapping one of major American sports’ longest playoff droughts two years later, Mayfield will likely need to sign a one-year deal and attempt to prove himself once again. Mayfield, 27, remains last in QBR among qualified starters.