David Montgomery

David Montgomery Expected To Miss Time

The Lions improved to 5-1 on the year with a victory yesterday, but the team’s ground game could be significantly shorthanded for at least a brief stretch. Running back David Montgomery‘s rib injury is likely to lead to missed time, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes.

Montgomery was forced to exit the Lions’ Week 6 win, and he was unable to return. X-rays came back negative, and further testing will no doubt be needed to determine a firm return timeline. Dan Campbell said Monday (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) the starting back is dealing with a cartilage issue. Any missed game action for Montgomery would be noteworthy, especially given the hamstring issue fellow back Jahmyr Gibbs is battling.

The latter has missed the past two games due to his injury, and the Lions would be well-suited to proceed with caution with the first-round rookie. Going without both Gibbs and Montgomery for any length of time would leave Detroit’s offense without two of its most important contributors, and threaten to unbalance one of the league’s most efficient offenses.

The conclusion of Sunday’s game offered a glimpse of a pass-heavy Lions attack would look like over the course of a full contest, with Craig Reynolds receiving the bulk of RB snaps and plenty being asked of quarterback Jared Goff. The latter set a new season high in pass attempts (44) and yards (353) while leading the team to victory. Detroit sits seventh in passing yards per game, but the strength of the team’s rushing attack has played a central role in their No. 4 rank regarding both scoring and total offense.

The status of both Montgomery and Gibbs will be worth watching closely as the week progresses, and either being able to suit up in Week 7 will be a welcomed development. In the case of the former (who inked a three-year, $18MM deal in free agency), though, it appears that will not be the case.

Injury Notes: Harris, Tannehill, Garoppolo, Montgomery

Another scary scene in a Bills‘ regular season game, this time on their own home turf. Shortly before halftime in tonight’s Sunday Night Football game, Bills running back Damien Harris went down after an awkward-looking stinger and laid motionless on the turf, per Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN, requiring Buffalo’s award-winning medical staff to leap into action once again.

Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News reported that Harris was able to give the stadium a thumbs up as he was loaded into the ambulance in the middle of the field, providing a bit of comfort in a terrifying situation. Reports quickly followed that Harris was ruled out for the remainder of the contest with a neck injury but that he had movement in his arms and legs as he was being taken to the hospital for further testing, according to The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia.

While James Cook has shouldered most of the load at running back in Buffalo so far this year, Harris has worked in tandem with Latavius Muray to spell Cook here and there. Harris came into the game as the team’s second-leading rusher in the running backs room. Hopefully, Harris will be able to make a quick and strong return to the field and retake his role in the Bills’ backfield.

Here are a few other injury rumors from around the NFL today:

  • Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a right ankle injury in today’s loss to the Ravens in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. After the initial injury, when a Ravens defender rolled over the back of Tannehill’s legs on a sack, the veteran quarterback attempted to return to the game. He found it difficult to step into throws and subsequently threw an interception. He told the media after the game that he felt he couldn’t be effective with the injury, leading to the entry of backup quarterback Malik Willis. According to ESPN’s Turron Davenport, Tannehill was on crutches after the game with plans to undergo an MRI once back in Tennessee. He missed the last three games of the season last year due to an injury to that same ankle, so there may be some concern about further damage to a previous injury. Despite the early hype, second-round rookie Will Levis has not been active for recent games, leading to the use of Willis. With a bye week coming up, there are myriad possibilities in the quarterbacks room. Tannehill could have plenty of time to heal, Willis could have ample time to prepare, or Levis could use the time to earn the staff’s trust, along with his first start.
  • The Raiders played the second half of today’s win over New England without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after the former Patriot left the game with a back injury. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Las Vegas chose to “err on the side of caution” with their 31-year-old quarterback, sending him to the hospital mid-game for some precautionary tests.
  • Lions running back David Montgomery was knocked out of today’s win over the Buccaneers with a rib injury, according to Schefter. With Jahmyr Gibbs already ruled out while nursing a hamstring injury, Detroit turned to third- and fourth-string backs Craig Reynolds and Devine Ozigbo. X-rays came back negative on Montgomery’s ribs, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, a good sign that Montgomery may have avoided serious injury to his ribs. If neither Montgomery nor Gibbs are able to return for next week’s trip to Baltimore, expect more of Reynolds and Ozigbo.

Latest On Lions’ Secondary Plans

After ranking at or near the bottom across the board defensively last season, the Lions made a number of investments this offseason. Most of them came in the secondary. The team signed three expected starters and drafted a fourth in the second round. Two of those starters will not be available against the Packers tonight.

C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Emmanuel Moseley are out, though the latter is moving closer to debuting for his new team. The former 49ers cornerback will not play against the Pack, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, but the Lions have a big role in mind for him once he is finally cleared to return.

The Lions are preparing to incorporate Moseley as a regular immediately. Dan Campbell said (via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers) the free agent pickup is expected to rotate with Jerry Jacobs upon debuting. Jacobs will still have a regular gig and a chance to fend off Moseley, but Detroit prioritized the latter in free agency. GM Brad Holmes said Moseley would have likely been out of the Lions’ price range had he not suffered an ACL tear in October 2022.

I think, more than anything, it will probably be by series,” Campbell said of Detroit’s upcoming CB rotation. “Certainly give [Moseley] a couple in a row where he gets a good feel and I think most of it will be we’ll put a governor on his reps so that we’ll be smart about that as he comes back. Then, really from there, it’s how does he feel?

I think everybody feels pretty good about as he goes out there, he’s going to get his legs back under him pretty quick. Certainly, we’ll see where that goes. The good news is if it’s not quite there yet then we still have Jerry and we’ll battle it out. We’re fortunate to have both those guys.”

Moseley, 27, has undergone two surgeries, the second coming this summer, and Rogers notes he would likely have debuted already were it not for a summer hamstring strain. Moseley started 33 games for the 49ers and added five postseason starts — including Super Bowl LIV. He operated as a boundary corner in San Francisco and, after signing a one-year deal worth $6MM, will be expected to start alongside Cameron Sutton and nickel Brian Branch in Detroit.

This represents a big year for Moseley, who will need to show sufficient form following the knee injury. Moseley signed a lower-level deal (two years, $9.38MM) in 2021 to stay in San Francisco. After his one-year Lions pact, time is running out for the sixth-year defender to score a lucrative payday.

Gardner-Johnson resides in the same boat, though he has a bit more time to cash in. The 25-year-old defender, however, has seen a torn pectoral muscle hijack his Motor City platform season. Although this injury frequently ends players’ seasons, Campbell has not ruled out the possibility of the starting safety returning late in this campaign.

Campbell said during a WXYT radio interview (h/t Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press) Gardner-Johnson is not a lock to be shut down. The Lions will likely hold back one of their eight IR activations for CJGJ. Tracy Walker, who suffered an Achilles tear early last season, started in place of Gardner-Johnson against the Falcons. Walker made for an unusual backup, having signed a three-year, $25MM deal after 34 games from 2019-21.

Gardner-Johnson had aimed to use this Lions season to command a better market than he did in March, when he agreed to a one-year deal worth $6.5MM with the Lions. While it is possible the Lions will have both their one-year DB investments — Gardner-Johnson and Moseley — on the field together later this season, the team has some backups with extensive starter experience holding down the fort.

Additionally, the Lions are on track to have two of their offensive starters — Taylor Decker and David Montgomery — back tonight. The veteran left tackle and UFA running back addition are slated to play, Rogers adds. Decker has missed the past two weeks; Montgomery was sidelined for Week 3.

David Montgomery Expected To Miss Time

The Lions could be without their leading rusher which would force them to turn the reins over to their rookie for a period if running back David Montgomery‘s comments today are accurate. After Montgomery was carted off the sideline to the locker room in today’s overtime loss to the Seahawks, he told the media that it may take him “a couple weeks” to heal, as reported by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Montgomery hobbled off the field with the help of the team’s training staff after sustaining a thigh bruise in the second half of today’s game. He eventually had to be taken to the locker room on a cart for further inspection.

Thigh bruises can be tricky for running backs but typically will only cost a rusher a week or so. Last year saw Cowboys running back Tony Pollard miss a game late in the season on a short week due to a thigh bruise. There’s a chance that Montgomery’s comments could mean that he can still play but that he will still be hampered by the injury for a couple more weeks. Based on the level of discomfort displayed by Montgomery today, though, he may be hampered quite a bit for a week or more.

If Montgomery isn’t able to play through the injury, Detroit will obviously turn to the first-round rookie out of Alabama, Jahmyr Gibbs. Gibbs has so far been outgained by Montgomery 141 rushing yards to 59 on 14 carries to the veteran’s 37. Gibbs has had a much larger role in the passing game, though, with nine catches for 57 yards on 11 targets versus Montgomery, who has caught his only target for a seven-yard catch.

Montgomery has been heavily favored in terms of use early in the year, and many in Detroit have been excited and eager to see what Gibbs can offer in a larger role. This may be the door that cracks open, allowing Gibbs to take the reins of the offense and not let go. Montgomery has been a lead back throughout his NFL career in Chicago, never recording fewer than 200 carries in a season, but if Gibbs can shine in relief of Montgomery, we could see the veteran take a backseat for the first time in his career.

Any absence by Montgomery will also mean a few more opportunities for third-stringer Craig Reynolds, who received his first three carries of the season today after Montgomery’s departure. Even if Montgomery’s return sees him coming back in a backup role, the Lions will be hoping to see him back soon to help keep the legs of their rookie rusher fresh.

Lions Notes: LBs, Gibbs, Branch

The Lions had two picks in the first round of the 2023 draft, and they used both of them on non-premium positions. Detroit selected running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the No. 12 overall pick and added inside linebacker Jack Campbell with the No. 18 selection.

As the first off-ball ‘backer taken in the draft, it was fair to expect that Campbell would immediately be inserted into the starting lineup alongside veteran Alex Anzalone, who signed a three-year, $18.75MM deal in March to remain with the Lions. However, it became clear that such an assumption was a bit premature. 2021 fourth-rounder Derrick Barnes impressed during OTAs, while Campbell acknowledged that he was perhaps trying to do too much in his first taste of the pros (via Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website).

“I came in and I felt like maybe I was pressing a little bit early on,” Campbell said yesterday. “But right now, I’m just trying to settle down. My personality type I like to make sure everything is perfect. I just need to understand that mistakes are going to happen and as long as I’m playing fast everything is going to work out.”

While Barnes has earned the starting job next to Anzalone, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn made it clear that the team’s top four LBs — a group that also includes 2022 sixth-rounder Malcolm Rodriguez — will see plenty of action. Campbell showed off his tackling ability in Detroit’s preseason slate, and given the club’s investment in him, it is certainly possible that his snap share will increase as the regular season unfolds.

Gibbs, meanwhile, split first-team training camp reps with free agent acquisition and former division rival David Montgomery and will start the year as the pass-catching complement to Montgomery (he will likely get his fair share of carries as well). Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson told reporters, including Twentyman, that, “we might use Gibbs in some ways that people don’t quite think we might,” though it’s unclear exactly what that means. Most are already expecting Gibbs to line up as a receiver, but perhaps he could line up as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation (or maybe, with the season set to kick off on Thursday against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, Johnson is simply engaging in a little misdirection).

Another rookie, Brian Branch, has secured the starting nickel corner job, per Twentyman. The second-round pick out of Alabama began taking first-team reps at the position after C.J. Gardner-Johnson suffered a knee injury early in training camp, and he immediately impressed. GM Brad Holmes, who engineered a trade-up to land Branch, said that the team had a first-round grade on the defensive back.

“He fits who we are, so you don’t know exactly how quick it’s going to turn on, but we’re not surprised that he’s making the plays because he’s doing, really a lot of the same things that he did at Alabama,” Holmes said.

Branch’s emergence will presumably allow the team to move Gardner-Johnson to safety, where he thrived with the Eagles in 2022.

Dan Campbell Addresses Lions’ RB Tandem

The Lions used both of their first-round picks in the 2023 draft on positions deemed less valuable than others in recent years. That included the selection of running back Jahmyr Gibbs 12th overall, something which led to expectations of immediate playing time.

The Alabama product was in consideration for the Lions at their original No. 6 position, illustrating how high the team was on him. Gibbs’ draft stock surged as a result of his pass-catching abilities, and that skillset should see him on the field plenty as a rookie. With free agent signing David Montgomery in place as well, however, a division of labor is likely in the backfield this season.

The latter inked a three-year, $18MM deal to head to Detroit after four years in Chicago. That represented one of the most lucrative commitments made at the running back position this offseason, and gave the Lions an effective Jamaal Williams replacement. Having both Montgomery and Gibbs in the fold allowed Detroit to move on from former second-rounder D’Andre Swift, who had expressed frustration with his usage and faced an uncertain future in the Motor City beyond 2023.

In the early part of training camp, Montgomery and Gibbs split first-team reps, as detailed by Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The former received between 201 and 247 carries in each of his Bears campaign, operating as the focal point of the team’s offense on the ground. With Gibbs, by contrast, set to contribute through the air, especially early in his career, a clear usage plan is in place for head coach Dan Campbell.

“Man, I think you need a back that, push comes to shove, he can carry a load,” Campbell said when asked about his new RB tandem (Twitter link via Sirius XM Radio). “Somebody you feel like you can give the ball to 20, 25 times a game, potentially. And then you need that specialty guy. He’s much more – he carries the scalpel and he can slice you up. He can hurt you in the pass game, potentially. I’m talking about Gibbs obviously. Get him out there and do a few more things, because that’s kind of what I know.”

Campbell named the highly-productive former Saints tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara as a blueprint for the Lions to follow with Montgomery and Gibbs. Even with quarterback Jared Goff having impressed in Detroit last season, the backfield will no doubt play a central role in the team’s offensive success in 2023 and thus their ability to meet expectations. A two-pronged approach at the RB spot will prove to be effective if both Montgomery and Gibbs fit their respective billings.

Bears, Vikings Pursued David Montgomery; Lions Pivoted After Jamaal Williams Rejected Offer

While this year’s running back market did not produce a top-10 contract at the position, some interesting dominoes fell. Perhaps none more so than David Montgomery, who left the Bears to be the Lions’ Jamaal Williams replacement.

The Lions gave Montgomery a three-year, $18MM deal that includes $8.75MM fully guaranteed. The Bears wanted to retain their veteran starter, however, with the Chicago Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley indicating the team believed it made a competitive offer. It just was not enough to keep Montgomery in the Windy City, something GM Ryan Poles said he was interested in doing earlier this offseason.

Chicago’s offer did not include any guaranteed money beyond Year 1 of the deal, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes. Montgomery can collect $2.25MM in additional funds if he is on the Lions’ roster on Day 3 of the 2024 league year. Seeing as it would cost the Lions more than $6MM in dead money to cut Montgomery before that bonus date, it represents a good bet this will be at least a two-year partnership. Only Miles Sanders received more fully guaranteed money among running backs in free agency this year.

I would just kind of sum it up by saying players do have a choice,’’ Poles said of Montgomery’s decision, via Finley. ‘‘I thought we communicated well. I thought we negotiated well. At the same time, you don’t always know what’s going on in the background. But I thought we did a good job. We were transparent, we were organized and it just — it didn’t happen.”

Montgomery’s $6MM AAV matches the deal Williams played on from 2021-22. Williams said (via NewOrleans.football’s Mike Triplett) the Lions’ offer was disrespectful, leading him to the Saints on a three-year accord worth $12MM ($8.15MM fully guaranteed). The Lions did not pivot to Montgomery, 25, until Williams, 27, rejected their offer. Lions GM Brad Holmes said conversations with Williams’ agent at the Combine led him to believe the parties were closing in on another agreement.

From a budgeting and planning standpoint pre-free agency, we had an allotment of resources set aside, really for Jamaal,” Holmes said, via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. “Didn’t really even really consider another running back higher than that amount of resources that we set aside for Jamaal. And business happens and that’s part of this business and it just didn’t work.

We tried, but when the market crystallized and it got to a point where David was in play, kind of within the range of resources that we had set aside, then that’s when we went ahead and went forward with David, which we’re extremely excited about.”

The Lions likely offered Williams a deal with similar terms as Montgomery’s, Biggs adds, pointing to the league’s 2022 rushing touchdown leader slightly miscalculating his market. The ex-Packers draftee still landed on his feet with the Saints, though his AAV is down compared to his Lions contract. Williams will move into position as Alvin Kamara insurance. Kamara could face a six-game suspension due to his February 2022 battery arrest.

As both NFC North teams believed they were on track to retain their starting backs, Biggs adds the Vikings also pursued Montgomery. It is unclear if Minnesota made Montgomery an offer, but this interest adds another layer to what has become an intriguing divisional backfield outlook. Dalvin Cook‘s seat remains uncertain, and multiple teams viewed the perennial Pro Bowler as available ahead of free agency. A day Montgomery committed to the Lions, the Vikings gave longtime Cook backup Alexander Mattison a two-year, $7MM deal that comes nearly fully guaranteed.

A day after Mattison’s agreement, the Bears gave D’Onta Foreman a one-year deal worth just $2MM ($1MM guaranteed). Foreman will team with Khalil Herbert in Chicago, though Biggs suggests the Bears adding to their backfield in the draft should not be ruled out. This intra-divisional shakeup involved the upper echelon of free agent backs, as the second wave at the position — from the Dolphins’ duo to Samaje Perine to Devin Singletary to Damien Harris — did not eclipse $3MM guaranteed. It will be interesting to see how the Bears and Lions fare with reshaped backfields.

Lions To Sign RB David Montgomery

The Lions are snagging a running back from a division rival. Detroit has agreed to terms with running back David Montgomery, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

Montgomery is signing a three-year deal worth $18MM, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The deal includes $11MM in guaranteed money, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

The former third-round running back was handed the full-time starting gig in 2020 and was more than productive, finishing with 1,508 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns, with more than 400 of those yards coming via 54 receptions.

After topping 1,000 rushing yards during that 2020 campaign, Montgomery wasn’t able to eclipse that mark in 2021 nor 2022, averaging 825 rushing yards between those two seasons. Thanks to his receiving ability, he was still able to top 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of the past two years, but his sub-4.0 yards per rush still left plenty to be desired.

In Detroit, Montgomery won’t necessarily be leading the traditional rushing attack, as the organization could still look to squeeze some production out of D’Andre Swift. Instead, it sounds like this signing could spell the end of Jamaal Williams‘s tenure in Detroit, per Pelissero (on Twitter). Earlier tonight, Tyler Dunne tweeted that Williams and the Lions were far apart on a deal.

The Bears gave former sixth-round pick Khalil Herbert a look last season, and there’s a chance the team continues to add to the position.

Bears GM Ryan Poles Wants RB David Montgomery To Return

We tackled the stock Bears running back David Montgomery holds as he heads into free agency about a month ago. A key concern in his situation focused on whether or not Chicago would want to bring Montgomery back. Earlier this week, Bears general manager Ryan Poles gave us the answer, according to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times.

Poles made it clear in a public forum that he has a desire to keep Montgomery in the Windy City. “I’ve always wanted to keep David,” Poles told reporters. “I love his mentality, how he plays the game. I told him that to his face. He’s part of the identity that we had this year that kept us competitive.”

That PDA is endearing and likely sits well with the fourth-year running back out of Iowa State, but it doesn’t put food on his table. Compliments alone are not going to convince Montgomery to keep the “C” on his helmet, and Poles is aware of that.

“The second part of that is just the contract situation,” the rookie GM continued. “That’s something that we’ll see how that goes and if we can find common ground. Obviously, I’ve learned that you can want a player, and the value’s got to come together for it to happen.”

The value is going to be crucial, and there are two factors to take into account when trying to determine where Montgomery’s value falls. The first is current roster. Behind only quarterback Justin Herbert, Montgomery was second on the team in rushing yards, leading all running backs in Chicago. While that seems like a plus for Montgomery, it’s likely only the result of second-year running back Khalil Herbert missing three more games than Montgomery. Despite Montgomery outgaining Herbert 801 rushing yards to 731, Herbert averaged a higher rushing yards per game with 56.2 YPG compared to Montgomery’s 50.1. The benefit in performance comparison is that Montgomery is clearly the team’s preferred receiving back after hauling in 34 passes for 316 yards compared to Herbert, who was next closest for running backs with nine catches for 57 yards.

The second factor is going to be competition. This offseason’s free agent running back class is going to be stacked with talent. Montgomery will be competing for a new contract with the likes of Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders, Tony Pollard, Kareem Hunt, Jamaal Williams, and others. The plethora of options has the potential to saturate the market for running backs, leading to smaller contracts. If Montgomery wants to return to Chicago, though, he’ll hold the advantage over the others due to his familiarity with the franchise.

Statistically compared to recent contracts, Montgomery matches up closest with a player like Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette recently signed a three-year, $21MM deal after a contract year that looks vaguely similar to what Montgomery did this season. There are two factors in Montgomery’s favor, though. Montgomery doesn’t have the significant injury history that Fournette does, and Montgomery has been far more consistent with his production year in, year out. This could point to either a three-year deal with a slightly larger average annual value or a similar annual amount with another year tacked on. If Montgomery were in a vacuum, he would likely demand something like a three-year, $24MM contract or a four-year, $28MM deal.

If Montgomery finds his way back to Chicago, it will probably not be that steep of a payday. He may find that he can earn more money by taking a team-friendly deal with the only team he’s known so far, but with the emergence of Herbert, Montgomery won’t be able to demand top dollar value. It will be up to Poles and Montgomery to reach an agreement on value. If it helps, I hear Poles is “a big David Montgomery fan.”

Free Agent Stock Watch: David Montgomery

Bears running back David Montgomery will soon experience the challenges of a free agent running back in today’s NFL. A third-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Montgomery is currently in a contract year for a team that may not have reason to commit to him long-term. The final few games of the season could determine how the next stage of Montgomery’s career plays out.

Montgomery entered this season as the Bears’ No. 1 running back with backup Khalil Herbert providing the team with a strong secondary option. Montgomery had produced two strong seasons to kick off his career. As a rookie starting eight games, Montgomery racked up 889 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, adding 185 yards and a touchdown through the air as a receiving back. In his sophomore season, Montgomery showed a ton of promise, rushing for 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns and catching 54 passes for 438 yards and two touchdowns.

Last year, Chicago drafted Herbert in the sixth-round to supplement their rushing attack. Montgomery’s production slipped a bit as Herbert shared some of the offense, but he still produced 849 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns and showed he was the top receiving back with 301 yards on 42 catches. Herbert got his opportunities, though, and contributed 433 rushing yards and two touchdowns as a rookie.

This year the story has changed a little bit. Despite the fact that, coming into today’s game, Montgomery had started all but one game and appeared in two more games than Herbert, who had missed the team’s last three games with a hip injury, Montgomery trailed Herbert by two rushing yards. Montgomery plays about 67% of the Bears’ offensive snaps on average, while Herbert averages around 37%. Still, until today’s loss against the Eagles, the backup running back, Herbert, was outgaining the starting running back, Montgomery, with an average rushing yards per game of 64.3 to 53.4. Montgomery has maintained his role as the team’s top receiving back this season.

After sitting out of his fourth straight game today, Herbert is set to return next week to help Chicago in its last three games of the regular season. Montgomery will have a bit of an added challenge in the final few games of the season to show his worth to the Bears offense with his more-productive teammate back in the lineup. At 3-11, already eliminated from postseason contention, Montgomery will only have the final three games of the regular season to make his case.

If Montgomery hits free agency, he will join a stacked free agent class of running backs. After his fifth-year option was declined, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will be a free agent this offseason. Barring any new extensions before the end of the season, Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Eagles running back Miles Sanders, and Cowboys running back Tony Pollard will all join Montgomery and Jacobs on the free agent market. Additionally, key contributors in Browns running back Kareem Hunt, Lions running back Jamaal Williams, Bills running back Devin Singletary, and Patriots running back Damien Harris will all hit free agency, as well. Even a score of reliable backups will be available in Minnesota’s Alexander Mattison, Cincinnati’s Samaje Perine, New York’s James Robinson, Miami’s Raheem Mostert, and Carolina’s D’Onta Foreman.

Needless to say, Montgomery will have a ton of competition in the free agent market. Regardless of the competition, what would a deal with Montgomery look like? Realistically, these days, for a running back that isn’t a super star, a three-year deal is standard. Star backs are set to earn around $14MM to $16MM per year, perhaps more if a suitor wants to set the market high for a free agent target. Strong starters will earn around $10MM to $13MM and second-tier backs will be in the range of about $6MM to $8MM.

Statistically compared to recent contracts, Montgomery matches up closest with a player like Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette recently signed a three-year, $21MM deal after a contract year that could look vaguely similar to what Montgomery is projected to do this year. There are two factors in Montgomery’s favor, though. Montgomery doesn’t have the significant injury history that Fournette does, and Montgomery has been far more consistent with his production year in, year out. This could point to either a three-year deal with a slightly larger average annual value or a similar annual amount with another year tacked on. If Montgomery were in a vacuum, he would likely demand something like a three-year, $24MM contract or a four-year, $28MM deal.

Unfortunately for Montgomery, he is not in a vacuum. With the excessive amount of competition he will face in the free agent market, Montgomery’s value may be diluted. It will be hard to convince a team to shell out big money for Montgomery if they can just sign a lesser deal to one of many options. This may lead Montgomery to seek a team-friendly deal in order to stay in Chicago. With the existing connection and chemistry, Montgomery may be able to get more value out of his current team than he would testing the markets.

Taking all of this into account, Montgomery still will likely earn a three-year contract, possibly even four- with his superior durability. In a diluted market or in a team friendly deal, I could see Montgomery signing with an average annual value of $6MM or $7MM. It would make sense to see Montgomery end up with a three-year, $19.5MM or four-year, $24MM deal this offseason. Whether he wants to stand pat in Chicago or test the free agent waters, Montgomery will have three more games to show what he’s worth.