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2009 NFL Free Agents: Running Backs
Total Pro Sports – This years running back UFA’s may leave more to be desired, there are plenty of backs that can fill a backup role but few proven starters that can be relied on to produce 1000 yards. Let us take a look at the available backs.
1. Brandon Jacobs: At 6′ 4″ Jacobs is a load for opposing defences, but do not be fooled by his size he has great feet and is able to outrun the secondary when he hits the open field. Jacobs has dealt with some injury concerns but is a proven No. 1 running back that may fit in well in a combo back system. He is an established power back that could benefit tremendously with a back up scat back in the system. He may not be available for too long as he is arguably the most talented free agent running back.
TPS Prediction: Jacobs re-signs with the Giants on a long term deal. He is the “straw that stirs the drink” in that offense, and gives the Giants that “smashmouth” mystique. They can’t afford to let him go.
2. Darren Sproles: The most explosive available running back on the market will make a future team very happy. Recently nicknamed “Jr LT”, Sproles can provide a team versatility, he is great in the return game and could be used in change of pace role. The question is his size, but that can quickly be overlooked as he had an outstanding end to the ’08 season and carried that momentum into the playoffs, his confidence should be at an all-time high and this will be evident early in the ’09 season.
TPS Prediction: Sproles will soon discover that the demand for a TINY running back in the NFL is also VERY TINY. He is worth more to San Diego than anywhere else. He re-signs, and continues his current role.
3. Derrick Ward: Derrick Ward had his best season as a professional raking up 1025 rushing yards in a backup role. He also averaged 5.6 yards per carry, granted he did play for the conference champion New York Giants. Ward has good size, vision, and agility for a big man, he can reaches the second level consistently and has the power to drive opponents backwards. The one drawback to Wards’ situation is that he is turning 29 and that is the tail end of a running backs career, he will probably recieve a short term contract.
TPS Prediction: Ward will be out of New York, as the he will demand more than he is worth. As stated, he turns 29 by the start of the ’09 season, and is HIGHLY replaceable in the draft. He will probably sign a three year deal with a contending team, and will be given a featured role. He will soon discover that he is not as good as his numbers indicate. He has been spoiled by a great o-line, and by not being keyed on.
4. DeShaun Foster: He has seen his numbers steadily decline over the years, that is not surprising considering he is a backup to Frank Gore. Foster may still have some gas in the tank, but it is a gamble for a team looking to fill a reserve running back role. Foster has had injuries in the past and is also turning 29. He may be a good third down back but at this point in his career in unlikely to fill a starter role in the league.
TPS Prediction: Foster will not find any “biters” in the free agent market, and will have to take a pay cut to stay in football. Unlike Ward, he has not been productive lately. At best, he will sign as a third stringer with the Niners or another desperate team. At worst, he starts the season on his couch waiting for a phone call.
Notable Running Backs
Rudi Johnson, LaMont Jordan, Maurice Morris, Correll Buckhalter, Micheal Pittman, Dominic Rhodes, Jason Wright, J.J. Arrington, Aaron Stecker