DeAngelo Williams

DeAngelo Williams Not Ruling Out Return In 2018

Veteran running back DeAngelo Williams isn’t ready to officially call it quits yet and isn’t ruling out a return to the field for the 2018 season, he said on ESPNDeAngelo Williams (Vertical)

“I’m going to leave my options open. I don’t know, to be honest with you,” Williams said. “Nobody wanted me last year. Well they did, they just didn’t offer me the money that I wanted.”

An 11-year running back with the Panthers and Steelers, Williams twice led the league in rushing touchdowns (2008, 2015) and earned one Pro Bowl selection (2009). Though he did not sign with a team in 2017, he appeared to have plenty left in the tank in his two seasons serving as a complement to All-Pro back Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.

He also said that watching Ryan Shazier‘s injury had a significant effect on his desire to play. “It really touched me and it really hurt me,” he said. “When I saw that, I’m like, ‘I’m done.’ You look at those things and you weigh those.”

Though it doesn’t sound like he’s going to jump at the first offer, Williams could provide a contender with a solid backup in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cousins, Brees, Panthers

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins could hit free agency next offseason, which would force the team to engage in a bidding war if it wants to retain him, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Cousins re-sign in 2018, writes Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. The standoff between the Redskins and Cousins isn’t personal, notes Graziano, who expects him to stay with them if they make him the best offer. Otherwise, Graziano runs down a slew of other potential suitors that could make Cousins one of the richest players in the game if he reaches the open market in March. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests that a Cousins derby could look a bit like Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White’s trip to free agency in 1993, when most of the league pursued him before he signed with Green Bay, as well as the sweepstakes for quarterback Peyton Manning in 2012. Manning drew vast interest before joining the Broncos.

More from the NFC:

  • In theory, Saints quarterback Drew Brees is in the same situation as Cousins. Except, Brees has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t want to play anywhere but New Orleans, as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com writes. The 38-year-old could have become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and cashed in on a weak QB market, but he instead gave up his leverage by signing a one-year, $24.25MM extension just before the 2016 opener. For a morale boost, Triplett thinks the Saints should do the same thing before the 2017 season kicks off. Then again, since Brees hasn’t given the team any real reason to think he’ll bolt in free agency next year, there isn’t a ton of pressure to get that done.
  • Brandon Beane, who spent 19 years in Carolina’s front office before taking over as the Bills’ general manager in May, endorses the Panthers’ decision to bring in Marty Hurney as the interim GM. “Hiring Marty is an excellent move for the Panthers,” Beane told David Newton of ESPN.com. “He knows the organization inside and out and has great relationships with many people in their front office and coaching staff. I wish him nothing but the best in his return to Carolina.” Most of Beane’s tenure in Carolina was spent working under Hurney, who first served as the team’s GM from 2002-12.
  • Free agent running back DeAngelo Williams would be willing to pull a Hurney and return to the Panthers, with whom he played from 2006-14, but the club should stay away, argues Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer. Not only do the Panthers have a full complement of running backs (Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel, Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne), but Fowler points out that Williams has badmouthed the Panthers since his departure and, at 34 years old, has taken a pounding during his career.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

DeAngelo Williams: I’d Play For Panthers

Dave Gettleman is out as GM in Carolina and some former Panthers notables are in favor of the surprise firing. The latest to join the fray is former Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams, who previously said that the Panthers were one of four teams that he would refuse to play for in 2017DeAngelo Williams (vertical)

[RELATED: Panthers Fire GM Dave Gettleman]

I want to publicly say [the Panthers are] off my list of teams I won’t play for due to the firing of that snake Dave Gettleman,” Williams tweeted.

The 34-year-old Williams spent the first nine seasons of his career in Carolina, but he left with a bad taste in his mouth after clashing with Gettleman. Cornerback Josh Norman and wide receiver Steve Smith left the Panthers with similar feelings and they also took to social media on Monday to celebrate Gettleman’s firing (Twitter links).

Panthers fans shouldn’t go dusting off their Williams jerseys just yet. The team is well stocked at the position with Jonathan Stewart, first round pick Christian McCaffrey, and second round pick Curtis Samuel leading the way. Familiar faces Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne are also under contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

DeAngelo Williams Rules Out Four Teams

Earlier this month, DeAngelo Williams told ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter that he wanted to continue playing in 2017. However, he said that there were four mystery teams he refused to play for. The running back has now revealed the identity of those teams (audio link). DeAngelo Williams (vertical)

[RELATED: Finding A Fit For RB DeAngelo Williams]

Surprisingly, the Panthers are one of the teams that Williams says he will not sign with. The 34-year-old spent the first nine seasons of his career in Carolina, but he left there with a bad taste in his mouth because of the way his departure played out. He also said that he would not sign with the Cowboys, because he grew up a 49ers fan. The Browns and Jaguars, Williams says, are also not in consideration, because of their losing seasons. Williams was not exactly delicate as he broke down his reasons for crossing off each club.

They don’t ever show up during the playoffs,” Williams said of the Cowboys. “They always disappear in the playoffs.”

In theory, that leaves 28 teams for Williams to possibly join this summer. However, his age and odometer are clearly working against him as we have heard little chatter around the veteran tailback. They say that beggars can’t be choosers, and Williams is being a chooser in the most unorthodox way by ruling out four teams that he could possibly join.

As of this writing, all four of the teams listed by Williams seem pretty well set at running back. However, if one of those clubs loses an RB to injury this summer, he may regret his words.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Finding A Fit For RB DeAngelo Williams

Two years ago, at the age of 32, DeAngelo Williams started 10 games for the Steelers and produced 11 rushing touchdowns, 4.5 yards per carry, and 40 receptions through the air while filling in for Le’Veon Bell, who had been suspended and subsequently injured. In 2016, sidelined for seven games by his own health questions, Williams managed only 3.5 yards per touch on 98 attempts.DeAngelo Williams (Vertical)

Thus far, Williams hasn’t been linked directly linked to any clubs, but he made clear earlier today that he intends to play during the 2017 campaign. It’s possible that he’ll have to wait for an injury to occur before receiving a call, something to which Williams alluded to today. I recently ranked Williams as the third-best free agent back available, behind fellow veterans Chris Johnson and Rashad Jennings.

Williams said today there are four teams he won’t play for, but wouldn’t identify those clubs, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. With the hope that we’re not listing one of those squads, let’s take a look at six teams that could use Williams immediately:

Detroit Lions

Detroit’s 2016 rushing offense was, by almost any measure, putrid. On an NFL-low 350 rushing attempts, the Lions finished 27th in yards per carry, 25th in DVOA, and 31st in adjusted line yards, the latter a measure of a club’s offensive line strength. Detroit attempted to rectify its front five this offseason, swapping out Larry Warford and Riley Reiff for T.J. Lang and Ricky Wagner, but the team’s crop of backs has essentially remained stagnant. Getting former second-round pick Ameer Abdullah back from a Lisfranc injury should help matters, and the Lions have praised reserve Dwayne Washington, but the club’s only free agent addition or draft choice in the backfield was former Viking Matt Asiata, who plodded to a 3.3 yards per carry average a season ago. Williams, then, could offer Detroit a bit more dynamic safety net behind its younger runners.

Los Angeles Chargers

Among the 19 running backs that managed at least 200 carries in 2016, Melvin Gordon finished 13th with only 3.93 yards per rush. So although he scored 10 touchdowns on the ground, it stands to reason the former first-round pick could use a breather from time to time. Kenneth Farrow, who served as Gordon’s primary backup last season, posted only 3.2 yards per carry on 60 attempts, while Branden Oliver (who hasn’t seen the field since October 2015), Andre Williams, and Kenjon Barner aren’t exactly an inspiring crop. With Danny Woodhead having left via free agency, the Chargers have a need for a back like Williams, who can succeed in the passing game.

Los Angeles Rams

Like Gordon, Todd Gurley struggled from a lack of team running back depth, as he finished 19th out of 19 on the list linked above with just 3.18 yards per attempt. The Rams offense was a disaster as a whole, ranking 32nd in both pass and rushing DVOA. Los Angeles has seemingly found a fix at left tackle, upgrading from Greg Robinson to Andrew Whitworth, and are now 18th in Pro Football Focus‘ offseason offensive line rankings. Still, when the “running back” with the most carries behind Gurley is Tavon Austin with 28, backups are an issue. The Rams already signed former Cowboy Lance Dunbar to handle third-down work, but Williams would offer a more prototypical skill-set as a reserve.

Miami Dolphins

Jay Ajayi was excellent during his second NFL season, rushing for more than 1,200 yards while ranking seventh in DYAR and finishing third in PFF’s running back grades. But there are certainly reasons to be concerned about Ajayi, and chief among them is the knee issues that led to his draft slide in 2015. Severe knee injuries scared off teams that year, and Ajayi has put a lot of work in during the past four seasons. Between Boise State and Miami, Ajayi has managed 249 carries in three of the past four seasons (including a whopping 347 attempts during his final collegiate campaign). Personally, I’m a fan of backup of Damien Williams, but his lack of production during his three-year NFL tenure may leave the Dolphins looking for an experienced reserve such as DeAngelo Williams.

New York Giants

The Giants regard second-year runner Paul Perkins as a three-down back, but they haven’t added much insurance in the event Perkins doesn’t perform (or gets injured) in 2016. Shaun Draughn and Orleans Darkwa haven’t done much in their limited NFL action, Shane Vereen has proven himself to be a passing game specialist, while fourth-round rookie Wayne Gallman was labeled an impatient runner and compared to journeyman Khiry Robinson in Lance Zierlein’s NFL.com predraft profile. Big Blue’s rushing attack ranked 26th in DVOA a season ago, and doesn’t figure to improve if Perkins doesn’t grow into a No. 1 role. Still, the Giants are the least likely club on this list to bring in Williams or any other veteran.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Williams was an excellent investment for the Steelers, as he provided stability in the club’s backfield (especially in 2015) while earning only $4MM over the life of a two-year contract. He could conceivably play a similar role for Pittsburgh in 2017, but the Steelers have added other factors behind Le’Veon Bell. In addition to signing free agent Knile Davis, Pittsburgh also spent a third-round choice on local product James Conner. Fitzgerald Toussaint is also in the discussion for backup carries after posting 4.1 yards per attempt in 58 touches last year. General manager Kevin Colbert said in March the Steelers weren’t yet closing the door on Williams, but that statement was made before Pittsburgh draft Conner. Williams himself said today he wasn’t ruling out a return to the Steelers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

DeAngelo Williams Wants To Keep Playing

Yes,DeAngelo Williams is 34 years old. And, yes, he made his pro wrestling debut last weekend. But the running back is not ready to leave the game of football just yet. DeAngelo Williams (Vertical)

[RELATED: Williams Among Five Best Running Backs Left In Free Agency]

“Oh I’m definitely playing football,” Williams told ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (link). “I’m just, I guess you could say I’m waiting on the phone call. I guess you could say that. I mean, not guess, you can say that. I’m waiting on the phone call with a GM or head coach or whoever decided I need my services I’ll be ready.”

Williams’ largely successful debut in the squared circle will not lead to a new career just yet, because he feels that he still has unfinished business to take care of on the gridiron. It’s easy to understand why he feels he has a lot left in the tank. Williams is only two years removed from a season in which he had 907 yards on the ground (4.5 yards per carry), 11 rushing touchdowns, and 40 catches for 367 receiving yards. Last year, he was held back by November knee surgery, but based on the way he looked in his tag team match, he appears to be all healed up.

Back in March, the Steelers indicated that the door was still cracked open for Williams to return, but we haven’t heard anything else on that front in the last three months. Right now, the Steelers appear set at running back with Fitzgerald Toussaint, third round pick James Conner, and free agent pickup Knile Davis behind star Le’Veon Bell. There hasn’t been word of any other teams having interest in Williams this offseason, but that can always change with an injury in training camp.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Likely Done Signing Free Agents

The Steelers weren’t overly active in the free agent market, but the mid-level signings the club did make will likely comprise the entirety of Pittsburgh’s offseason transactions. General manager Kevin Colbert told reporters, including Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link), that the Steelers probably won’t ink any more players during the free agent period.Kevin Colbert (Vertical)

Pittsburgh mostly focused on internal players over the past month, as it assigned the franchise tag to running back Le’Veon Bell and extended wide receiver Antonio Brown. Additionally, the club re-signed linebackers James Harrison and Steven Johnson, quarterback Landry Jones, and tight end David Johnson. Wideout Justin Hunter, cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, running back Knile Davis, and defensive lineman Tyson Alualu represent the Steelers’ external additions.

One free agent still on the board is backup running back DeAngelo Williams, who remains unsigned more than two weeks into free agency. While Colbert didn’t intimate Williams is in the Steelers’ plans, he said the club won’t close the door on the veteran back until “[they] have to,” tweets Mark Kaboly of DKPittsburghSports.com. Williams, 34 next month, is PFR’s No. 5 free agent running back.

Because Pittsburgh didn’t do much during free agency, the team’s draft strategy hasn’t been affected by additions, per Colbert (Twitter link via Dulac). PFR pointed to the pass rush and cornerback as areas of need when assessing the Steelers’ potential offseason plans earlier this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Offense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Jay Cutler
  2. Chase Daniel
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  4. Colin Kaepernick
  5. Josh McCown
  6. Robert Griffin III
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Christian Ponder
  11. Blaine Gabbert
  12. Ryan Nassib
  13. Shaun Hill
  14. Kellen Moore
  15. Austin Davis

Tony Romo is not a free agent…at least not yet. If the Cowboys do not find a suitable trade and release him, you’ll find him at the top of this list.

Laugh if you must, but Cutler is far and away the best quarterback available on the open market. While most of this year’s QB-needy teams are done with their free agent shopping, the Jets are still searching for their 2017 starter and no one would make more sense for them than Cutler. He’s not all that far removed from playing solid football and he’s a logical transitional option for the Jets until they can isolate a better, younger option for 2018. Jay Cutler (Vertical)

Kaepernick’s reps wisely told the press that he will be standing for the National Anthem this year. Still, Kaepernick is an outspoken guy who wants to use his platform to discuss hot button issues, so there’s no guarantee that the media circus around him will cease. Jets owner Woody Johnson loves seeing his team on the back pages of the New York tabloids, but even he has to have more sense than to entertain Kaepernick. McCown, who has been contact with the team, would be an okay choice if they can’t get something done with Cutler. Chase Daniel could be an option too, but there isn’t much game film on him.

Needless to say, the No. 3 ranked player on this list isn’t an option in New York.

Running back:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. LeGarrette Blount
  3. Jamaal Charles
  4. Rashad Jennings
  5. Tim Hightower
  6. DeAngelo Williams
  7. Chris Johnson
  8. Christine Michael
  9. Benny Cunningham
  10. Bobby Rainey
  11. Brandon Bolden
  12. Denard Robinson
  13. James Starks
  14. Matt Asiata
  15. Kenjon Barner

Honorable mention: DuJuan Harris, Antonio AndrewsKhiry Robinson

Adrian Peterson (vertical)The Vikings have moved on and Peterson will not be back in Minnesota. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess. When Peterson’s option was declined by the Vikings earlier this month, there were tons of stories (likely sourced by Peterson’s camp) about interest from a litany of contenders. Since then, each team – through anonymous sources – has denied being in the mix for the veteran. It would be easy to doubt Peterson at this juncture, but he has come back from serious injuries multiple times in his career and he is only one year removed from his stellar 2015 campaign. He gets the top spot over the bruising Blount as well as Charles, who hasn’t been healthy in a long while.

Jennings was brought to New York with the idea that he would be the team’s workhorse. Unfortunately, two of his three seasons with the G-Men were marred by injury. Jennings is currently putting his agility to good use on Dancing With The Stars and it remains to be seen how committed he is to football. After that, we have a trio of vets (Hightower, Williams, CJ2K) who could still advance the ball in limited spurts.

In case you’re wondering – Mike Gillislee is not listed here because he is a restricted free agent.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Offense

NFL free agency is right around the corner! The legal tampering period starts on Tuesday and free agency officially starts on Thursday. The list of available free agents will change between now and then as players re-sign with teams or get cut loose, but we have a pretty good idea of who will be available right now. After looking at the top defensive players, we now shift our attention to the other side of the ball.

Here are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each position. The rankings aren’t determined by earning power, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with a combination of short- and long-term value taken into account. You won’t find restricted free agents or franchise tagged guys here since they are unlikely to go leave their current clubs.

Player evaluation is always subjective, so we encourage you to make your voices heard in the comments section in cases where you disagree with us.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Updated 3-7-2017, 2:55pm CT

Quarterback:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Nick Foles
  3. Brian Hoyer (story)
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Colin Kaepernick
  6. Josh McCown
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Christian Ponder
  12. Blaine Gabbert
  13. Geno Smith
  14. Matt Schaub (story)
  15. EJ Manuel

Honorable mention: Ryan Nassib, Landry JonesShaun Hill Mike Glennon (vertical)

Colin Kaepernick’s agents have (wisely) let everyone know that their client will stand for the National Anthem in 2017. That may seem like a minor point, but teams say they would have automatically removed him from consideration if he continued his attention-grabbing protest. He grabbed headlines for his actions on the sidelines last year, but he actually turned in an OK season. From a football standpoint, Kaepernick would make sense for a lot of teams as a QB2 with upside.

Interestingly, this list includes three quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it as the Jets’ starter and three rejects from the 49ers. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all six of those players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert) come with varying degrees of potential and proven effectiveness. Smith, somehow, could reportedly be retained by the Jets and installed as the starter in 2017.

Ryan Nassib is just outside of the top 15 here with EJ Manuel getting the final spot. Despite positive word about his play in practice, Nassib is unproven and the Giants’ apparent lack of interest in re-signing him says a lot. It’s also possible that he might not be 100% after ending the 2016 season on IR with an elbow injury. Manuel, for all his warts, has shown potential in small bursts.

Running back:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Darren McFadden
  7. Jacquizz Rodgers
  8. Rex Burkhead
  9. Rashad Jennings
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Tim Hightower
  12. DeAngelo Williams
  13. Andre Ellington
  14. Chris Johnson
  15. Christine Michael

Honorable mention: Robert Turbin, Travaris Cadet, Benny Cunningham, Lance Dunbar, Bobby Rainey, Brandon BoldenDenard Robinson, James Starks

Adrian Peterson (vertical)As expected, the Vikings have cut Adrian Peterson loose and he is expected to garner interest from contending clubs this week. Some might peg Peterson as the most talented running back in this year’s free agent class, but it all comes down to how you weigh his age and injury history. Peterson has shocked the football world in the past with an incredible comeback, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to do it again in his age-32 season. Eddie Lacy, who has injury question marks of his own, takes the top spot at the position.

The Patriots believe they won’t be able to match the offers that come in LeGarrette Blount‘s direction. Latavius Murray could circle back to the Raiders, but he won’t be agreeing to a deal with them before free agency opens on Thursday.

Jamaal Charles has the most impressive resume of anyone on this list, with the exception of Peterson. However, no one knows exactly what he can do after playing eight games in the last two years. He’ll turn 31 in December and that’s usually not an indicator of success for running backs.

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Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

[UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST EDITION OF THE TOP 2017 NFL FREE AGENTS BY POSITION]

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Mike Glennon
  3. Nick Foles
  4. Brian Hoyer
  5. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  6. Case Keenum
  7. Matt McGloin
  8. Mark Sanchez
  9. Geno Smith
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Josh McCown
  12. Christian Ponder
  13. Blaine Gabbert
  14. Matt Schaub
  15. Ryan Nassib

Honorable mention: Shaun Hill

As of this writing, Kirk Cousins is far and away the best potential free agent quarterback in this year’s crop. By the time March gets here, we’re fully expecting Cousins to be spoken for. Ultimately, the Redskins could franchise tag him, work out a long-term deal with him, or swing some type of trade that nets them a massive haul of talent and picks. That will leave a crop of retread quarterbacks that would probably best serve as transitional options for QB-needy teams. Kirk Cousins

Mike Glennon hasn’t done much in his 18 career starts, but talent evaluators are still in love with his size and potential. The 6’7″ quarterback will get more money this spring than you might expect, particularly since there are no surefire QBs in this year’s draft.

Teams looking for stopgap QBs will find a plethora of experienced, though perhaps uninspiring, signal callers. Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all have their best football behind them, but they could hold down the fort for a team in 2017 and maybe even find some success if the defense is strong enough. Of course, the ideal role for those guys would probably be as a backup to a better, younger quarterback.

Running back:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Eddie Lacy
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Darren McFadden
  6. Jacquizz Rodgers
  7. Rashad Jennings
  8. Danny Woodhead
  9. Rex Burkhead
  10. Tim Hightower
  11. DeAngelo Williams
  12. Andre Ellington
  13. Chris Johnson
  14. Christine Michael
  15. Robert Turbin

Consider Le’Veon Bell‘s name written in Etch-A-Sketch, because he is very unlikely to get near the open market. That could leave Eddie Lacy as the best tailback available in March. Lacy has struggled with weight issues in recent years and he lost much of the 2016 season to injury. Still, he is a bruising back that could nicely complement a quicker ball carrier. Before he was shut down for the year, Lacy was averaging 5.07 yards per carry in five games for Green Bay.

LeGarrette Blount (vertical)In the last two years, LeGarrette Blount seems to have put his off-the-field troubles behind him. Whether that’s a sign of his maturity or a product of the Patriots’ culture remains to be seen. Teams can ignore his past indiscretions, but they will be wary of his age. Blount turns 31 in December.

Latavius Murray has shown glimpses of being a special running back, but he has been inconsistent and his 4.0 yards-per-carry average of the last two years isn’t overly impressive. Darren McFadden ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2015, but 2016 was pretty much a lost year for him. Jacquizz Rodgers seemed to break out last year, but he wound up succumbing to the same injury bug that took down a host of other Buccaneers running backs. Speaking of injuries, Rashad Jennings was initially brought to the Giants to be a workhorse back, but two of his three years in New York were marred by ailments. Everyone in this tier has the potential to make a difference, but none should be counted on as anyone’s main guy in 2017.

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