Jamaal Charles

Poll: Which UFA RB Should Redskins Target?

Washington’s backfield corps absorbed a major blow Friday when news of Derrius Guice‘s ACL tear surfaced. The second-round pick had impressed during camp and was set to be a key part of the Redskins’ 2018 backfield.

Now, the Redskins are vulnerable here. Chris Thompson admitted he’s not fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered last season, leaving Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine as the team’s top two healthy running backs. Under the circumstances, it would seemingly behoove the Redskins to examine free agent options. Should they?

Washington holds $13MM-plus in cap space, so funding won’t be an issue here given the timing of this injury and the host of proven backs on the market. Of the players available, Orleans Darkwa has generated the most interest this offseason. The Giants’ 2017 rushing leader met with the Patriots in April, before undergoing surgery, and since recovering has met with the Bills, Jets and Colts. Each team passed, but Darkwa has just 276 carries on his NFL odometer. And he averaged 4.4 yards per tote despite running behind an injury-ravaged Giants offensive front.

Alfred Morris led the Redskins in rushing for four straight seasons, and he averaged 4.8 yards per handoff last season as the Cowboys’ primary starter during Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension. The former sixth-round Washington find is 29 and hasn’t generated much interest since his Cowboys contract expired, although he did visit the Jets recently.

Eddie Lacy‘s also fairly young, at 28, but he’s coming off a brutal Seahawks season. After providing per-carry averages north of 4.0 in each of his four Packers seasons, Lacy averaged just 2.6 yards per run for the Seahawks. Branden Oliver has not been as successful on a per-rush basis, holding a career average of 3.4, but he totaled 853 yards from scrimmage as a seven-game starter as a rookie in 2014. Oliver also drew interest from the Bills this summer.

What about the market’s old guard? Adrian Peterson is obviously the first name that comes to mind, and the future Hall of Famer maintains he would like to play a 12th season. Peterson said he’s now healthy and has recovered from the neck injury that ended his 2017 season. While the three-time rushing champion’s best days are behind him, he amassed two 130-plus-yard games with the Cardinals, doing so despite being a midseason acquisition.

Jamaal Charles, 31, made it through last season healthy after extensive knee trouble plagued him in 2015 and 2016, but the Broncos took him out of their rotation. Nevertheless, the two-time All-Pro led Denver backs by averaging 4.3 yards per carry (albeit on just 69 handoffs). DeMarco Murray retired, but he made it clear shortly before that announcement he was interested in playing this season. Could this situation lure the 2014 offensive player of the year out of retirement?

However, the Redskins also have former Broncos backup Kapri Bibbs and third-year UDFA Byron Marshall. Should they bypass the market and go with a cast fronted by Kelley and Perine?

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Best Free Agent RB Remaining?

Even as June winds down, there are a surprising number of quality running backs still available on the open market. The current free agent crop of backfield options includes some notable names, such as: 

Charles, Hightower, Vereen, and Murray were all on the Saints’ radar recently as they canvassed the free agent market for running back support. Ultimately, they signed Terrance West to help fill in during Mark Ingram‘s four-game suspension, leaving the other vets in limbo. While Charles, Hightower, and Vereen all showed their stuff for coach Sean Payton, Murray declined his invite, preferring not to participate in a giant cattle call.

When considering only past accomplishments, the names of Peterson, Charles, and Murray obviously stand out. But, unfortunately, father time is cruel to NFL running backs and these players are on the back nines of their careers, to put it mildly. Out of this trio, Murray has the best 2017 to show teams. Even though his job as the Titans’ top rusher was usurped by Derrick Henry, he had 39 catches for 266 yards and occasionally showed the powerful rushing that made him a force to be reckoned with in Dallas. Charles, he of several 1,000-yard seasons, had only 296 rushing yards in total and found himself at the bottom of Denver’s depth chart to close out the season. Peterson, meanwhile, forced his way out of New Orleans due to a lack of playing time and had only two performances of note in his run with the Cardinals.

Lacy signed with the Seahawks last year and hoped to put concerns about his health and conditioning to rest. Unfortunately, those questions persist after he averaged just 2.6 yards per carry in nine games. Lacy was a bulldozer in his early days with the Packers, but his last season of note came in 2015 when he averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Even then, ball security was a problem as he fumbled the ball four times.

Darkwa is back on the NFL radar after doctors cleared him to workout. Darkwa won’t win this poll on name value, but unlike everyone else on this list, he’s coming off of the best season of his career.The 26-year-old (did we mention that he’s also the youngest running back here?) ran for 751 yards off of 171 carries, good for a strong 4.4 yards per carry average. It was an ugly year for the Giants on the whole, but Darkwa excelled on a personal level.

Vereen, another ex-Giant, can’t say the same for his 2017 season. However, his second act with the Giants has been respectable on the whole. Acting as a secondary ball carrier, he has averaged 4.2 yards per carry over the last three seasons. He also showed that he can still be a worthwhile pass catcher out of the backfield with 44 grabs for 253 yards last season, though he averaged a career-low 5.8 yards per catch.

Last but not least is Morris, though you can be forgiven for forgetting about this three-time 1,000-yard rusher. Morris was a force to be reckoned with from 2012-2014, but he has been riding the pine for the Cowboys over the last two years. What you might not realize is that Morris was tremendous in a small sample last year as Ezekiel Elliott‘s early-season backup and later-season fill-in. Morris averaged 4.76 yards per carry off of 115 attempts, which makes one wonder why we haven’t heard his name mentioned in recent months.

Out of the running backs listed here, which player do you feel can contribute the most in 2018? Click below to cast your vote and defend your choice in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints’ Terrance West Signing Not Certain?

The Saints’ search for an Alvin Kamara sidekick during Mark Ingram‘s suspension has operated in high gear this week, with several running backs contacted for workouts. But the one they’ve reportedly agreed to sign — Terrance West — may not be New Orleans-bound just yet.

West’s deal is not finalized, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com and The Advocate’s Nick Underhill report (Twitter links). While Triplett notes a deal could come to fruition, it hasn’t yet despite a report of the sides reaching an agreement emerging Wednesday afternoon.

Additionally, Triplett reports Shane Vereen worked out for the Saints on Wednesday. He joins West, Jamaal Charles and Tim Hightower among UFA backs to audition for New Orleans. DeMarco Murray declined to be a part of this process.

Charles also could be a candidate for the Saints, assuming their West accord doesn’t come to fruition. The two-time All-Pro enjoyed a good workout, Herbie Teope of NFL.com tweets, and the injury-prone runner passed his physical. Teope adds a signing didn’t make sense for either side but could be revisited down the road. This would be Charles’ 11th season, should he land with a team.

This is the first known workout Vereen’s participated in since his Giants contract expired after the 2017 season. Vereen’s skill set is somewhat similar to Kamara’s; he’s functioned as a passing-down back in New England and New York. But nevertheless, the 29-year-old has seven years’ experience. However, he only posted 417 yards from scrimmage last season and missed 11 games in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jamaal Charles To Visit Saints

Running back Jamaal Charles will visit the Saints on Wednesday, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). We haven’t heard much about Charles since the end of the season, but he may finally get a chance to find an NFL home for 2018. 

After an exceptional, albeit injury-riddled, career with the Chiefs that included four Pro Bowl selections and two First Team All-Pro nods, Charles signed a one-year deal with the Broncos last year. Coming off multiple knee surgeries, he joined a crowded backfield that included C.J. Anderson and second-year back Devontae Booker and never established himself as the dominant force of years past.

Last year, Charles tallied 69 carries for 296 yards and a touchdown. The 31-year-old was a healthy scratch to close out the year and expressed his frustration with the team.

In addition to Charles, the Saints are also looking at old friend Tim Hightower, according to Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter). Hightower was spotted on the practice field Tuesday morning as he auditioned with the team’s running backs.

The Saints will be without Mark Ingram for the first four games of the season thanks to his suspension. The Saints have said that they’re comfortable with their remaining group – which includes Alvin Kamara, Trey Edmunds, Daniel Lasco, and roster hopefuls Boston Scott and Jonathan Williams – but they are giving some thought to adding some veteran reinforcement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Reid, Broncos, Carroll, Rams

Eric Reid looks set to become a UFA for the first time. The fifth-year safety’s 49ers contract expires after Week 17, and should the former first-round pick hit the market, he’ll be doing so at age 26 and with five seasons of full-time starter work. However, Reid is aware his protest participation over the past two years could play a role in his market.

I wouldn’t use the word ‘concerned.’ I’d say I understand that that’s a possibility,” Reid said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, when asked about his potential UFA market diminishing because of his participation in the Colin Kaepernick-led protest movement. “And I’m completely fine with that. The things that I’ve done, I stand by. And I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said I’m fine with whatever outcome comes because of that.”

Pro Football Focus rates Reid as a middle-of-the-pack safety this season. He’s suffered injuries in back-to-back years as well. But the ex-LSU cog started for an NFC championship game entrant as a rookie, earning Pro Bowl recognition, and has gone on to play both safety spots in San Francisco.

Here’s the latest from the Western divisions as the majority of those coalitions’ teams prepare for their seasons’ final games.

  • Vance Joseph‘s bid at a second Broncos season is suddenly at risk. After ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reported the rookie HC was facing longer odds at returning, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that the growing sense is Joseph will be canned after today’s finale. Several Broncos players have come out in support of Joseph, and a report earlier this month said Joseph was likely to earn a second season. But eight of Denver’s 10 losses have been by double digits, putting Joseph in line to possibly become the franchise’s first one-and-done coach.
  • Pete Carroll‘s obviously earned protection against being fired, but the eighth-year Seahawks coach doesn’t sound like he’s close to leaving the sideline especially soon. Seemingly in response to a rumor about a possible retirement floated by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, the 66-year-old HC said (on Twitter) “I ain’t old enough to think about retiring.”
  • Trumaine Johnson is finishing out his second franchise-tagged season, but he’s unsure the Rams will bring him back. The cornerback said at the beginning of the season it didn’t sound like he was in the team’s long-term plans, but he’s played a big role for a contending team this season. And Johnson, who turns 28 on Monday, pointed out this week he would like to stay in Los Angeles. “I’d love to be around,” Johnson said, via Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News. “But again, I understand the business side of it, so we’ll see. We’ll see in these next couple months.”
  • Sean McVay (via Hammond) isn’t sure Mark Barron will return for the Rams’ playoff opener next weekend. The linebacker’s battling an Achilles’ tendon injury and will be one of many players the Rams will rest today.
  • Jamaal Charles is inactive for the Broncos‘ season finale, and the 10th-year running back will fall just short of a $100K incentive, the Denver Post’s Nicki Jhabvala notes (on Twitter). Charles was to earn that bonus if he reached 500 yards from scrimmage, which was one of many thresholds in his incentive-laden contract. The 31-year-old back looked like a lock to get there at midseason, but he fell out of Denver’s rotation and will end his season with 425 yards. This could be the end for the two-time All-Pro, although he said earlier this season he wanted to play two more seasons.

Jamaal Charles Wants Release From Broncos

After being held out of the Broncos’ Week 16 matchup with Washington, running back Jamaal Charles told Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post the team “might as well” release him. Jamaal Charles (Vertical)

“I ain’t playing. Might as well,” he said. “No reason for me to just sit around and look at people play. It is what it is. I’m still going to be supportive of everyone on the team no matter what. I mean, they got my rights right now.”

The Broncos declared the veteran back inactive to get a look at rookie De’Angelo Henderson and could do the same when they take on Kansas City, Charles’ former team, in the season finale.

After an exceptional, albeit injury-riddled, career with the Chiefs that included four Pro Bowl selections and two First Team All-Pro nods, Charles signed a one-year deal with the Broncos in the offseason. Coming off multiple knee surgeries, he joined a crowded backfield that included C.J. Anderson and second-year back Devontae Booker and never established himself as the dominant force of years past. Through Week 16, Charles has tallied 69 carries for 296 yards and a touchdown.

Turning 31 years old on Wednesday, Charles is in the twilight of his career and hoping for a shot to catch on with a playoff-bound team. Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said releasing Charles has “not been a thought for us.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jamaal Charles Hopes To Play 2 More Years

After knee injuries threatened to end his career, Jamaal Charles has resurfaced as a quality complementary part for the Broncos this season. And he doesn’t plan on making it his last.

The 30-year-old running back said Thursday (via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, on Twitter) he wants to play two more seasons.

Charles signed a one-year deal with the Broncos in April but mentioned (via James Palmer of NFL.com, on Twitter) two teams told him he should retire after examining him. Jhabvala mentioned the Seahawks and 49ers examined his knees prior to the Broncos doing so (Twitter link). This is the first reported 49ers interest in the former All-Pro running back.

The Broncos have deployed Charles as an off-the-bench complement to C.J. Anderson, and the NFL’s career yards-per-carry leader is averaging 4.7 per tote through six games. Denver’s offense has struggled lately, but Charles has done well to show he can still contribute after receiving just 12 carries for the Chiefs last season. He underwent procedures on both of his menisci in 2016 after a second ACL surgery stopped his 2015 season. Palmer notes the Broncos are set to increase Charles’ workload soon after maxing him out at 10 touches on three occasions this season.

Charles is playing on an incentive-laden contract this season and stands to be a 2018 free agent. Even as running backs continue to be devalued as UFAs, the soon-to-be 31-year-old runner would seemingly generate interest regarding a possible 11th season in 2018 if he can make it through this year healthy. Despite being in Year 10, Charles only has 1,373 career carries. That’s eighth among active running backs, despite several players ahead of Charles on that list having begun their careers after his began in 2008.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RB Notes: Charles, Abdullah, Collins, Texans

Two starting running backs received some unfortunate news Monday, with Dalvin Cook having suffered a confirmed ACL tear and Chris Carson suffering multiple lower-leg injuries that will shelve him for an extended time period — if not the rest of his season. These setbacks stand to weaken Vikings and Seahawks’ rushing attacks, although both teams have veteran insurance. However, prior to these rookies’ arrivals, each team struggled to gain ground yards last season. Latavius Murray and Eddie Lacy — two fifth-year backs who relocated this offseason, one that featured a slow market for running backs — figure to play more prominent roles with their new teams now.

Here’s the latest from NFL backfields, continuing to another player who spent extensive time in free agency this year.

  • A bruised knee limited Jamaal Charles to just one series in the second half of the Broncos‘ Week 4 win over the Raiders, Mike Klis of 9 News tweets. That’s a bit scary given Charles’ injury history, but the good news is that it is not serious. It also helps that the Broncos are on bye and will not play again until Oct. 15.
  • Lions running back Ameer Abdullah rolled his ankle early in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but he says he feels “good” and has been cleared by doctors (link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). Abdullah, who missed the majority of the 2016 season with a foot injury, finished the day against Minnesota with a career-high 94 yards on 20 carries. If not for the ankle, he might have become the first Lion to have a 100-yard rushing game since Reggie Bush. The Lions have now gone 58 games since Bush gained 117 yards in a Thanksgiving win over Green Bay in 2013.
  • Alex Collins broke off two long runs on Sunday, but the new Ravens starter is already on a short leash because of ball-security issues. Collins has now fumbled twice since debuting with the Ravens in Week 2. “He won’t get any more opportunities [if the fumbling continues] — the leash isn’t going to be long on that,” John Harbaugh said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “When you come in here and drop the ball however many times he has dropped, I’m not going to tolerate it. I like him. He’s a good kid, and he makes plays, but he has to hold onto the football.” Collins fumbled twice as a rookie last season in limited Seahawks action and 17 times while at Arkansas.
  • Fellow second-year runner Tyler Ervin won’t have a chance to contribute on the field again this season. The Texans back suffered a torn patellar tendon, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Ervin was operating as a depth piece in a Lamar Miller– and D’Onta Foreman-fronted backfield. Ervin’s expected to have surgery Monday and land on IR, Wilson reports.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

AFC Notes: Eifert, Edelman, Charles

Let’s take a quick swing around the AFC as the early afternoon slate of games gets underway:

  • Bengals TE Tyler Eifert‘s most recent injury has further clouded his free agent case, as Paul Dehner, Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Eifert, who is in a contract year, is again experiencing back problems, and it is uncertain when he will return to the field. As Dehner observes, the Notre Dame product is in something of a catch-22. He either suits up at less than full health, which could hurt his performance and therefore his next contract, or he could wait until he is 100% healthy but not be on the field at all, thereby reinforcing his injury-prone reputation. Dehner says the franchise tag could still be in play for Cincinnati, as it would come at a relative bargain ($9-10MM) considering Eifert’s ability, but even a one-year deal at that value might be too much for the Bengals to stomach in light of Eifert’s health concerns. He may ultimately have to settle for a one-year “prove-it” deal to reestablish his value in 2018.
  • Julian Edelman underwent surgery to repair his torn right ACL within the past week, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. Reiss adds that everything went according to plan for the Patriots wideout, who expects to return at full strength in 2018.
  • Jamaal Charles had his best game with the Broncos last week, rushing nine times for 56 yards and a score, and his surprising success, along with the imminent return of Devontae Booker, have created a good problem for the Broncos, as Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post writes. Denver OC Mike McCoy said all three of his top backs — C.J. Anderson, Charles, and Booker — will get their fair share of reps, and there will not be a set number of carries for any of them.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) says Ravens RB Alex Collins will get an increased workload in the team’s contest against the Steelers today. Collins, who was promoted off Baltimore’s taxi squad several weeks ago, has looked like the most explosive back on the roster in his limited reps, so he will get an opportunity to show what he can do in a more featured role.

Broncos Rumors: Charles, Stephenson, Butt

Jamaal Charles reportedly has a “50/50” shot to make the Broncos‘ final roster, and his only chance to earn a spot on the club will come in Saturday’s preseason game against the Packers, tweets James Palmer of NFL.com. Charles, 30, signed a one-year deal with Denver that contained only $100K in guarantees, and he hasn’t yet participated in a preseason game. The veteran back, who’s been injured for much of the past two years, won’t play in the Broncos’ final preseason contest, so he’ll need to show he’s worth a roster spot this weekend. Denver’s other running backs includes C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, Juwan Thompson, Stevan Ridley, and De’Angelo Henderson.

Here’s more from the Mile High City:

  • Denver will soon face a decision on the status of offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com details (Twitter links). Stephenson isn’t expected to start, as the Broncos plan to play rookie Garret Bolles at left tackle and free agent addition Menelik Watson at right tackle. That combination would leave Stephenson as an extremely overpaid backup, as Stephenson will earn a fully guaranteed $2MM base salary and another $2MM bonus if he makes Denver’s Week 1 roster (all part of a contract restructuring agreed to earlier this year). While Stephenson’s salary is clearly a sunk cost, the Broncos could save the other $2MM by releasing him before the regular season gets underway.
  • Rookie tight end Jake Butt will “probably” begin the 2017 season on the physically unable to perform list, as Broncos head coach Vance Joseph explained to reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Butt, recovering from a torn ACL suffered in his final collegiate contest, would be forced to miss the first six games of the year if placed on PUP. Denver selected Butt in the fifth round, using the 145th overall pick to secure the Michigan product.
  • The Broncos have had a relatively busy week, as they’ve announced Trevor Siemian as their starting quarterback over Paxton Lynch, and learned fourth-year edge rusher Shaquil Barrett could be available for Week 1.