With free agency approaching as the 2016 NFL offseason kicks into full gear, we’re taking a look at how top-tier impending free agents rank at some of the hottest positions on this year’s market, starting with running backs.
1. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Obviously. I mean, the 27-year-old had 1,402 rushing yards, which ranked second only to THE Adrian Peterson. He also averaged 4.9 yards per carry, which was 0.4 points higher than Peterson. That average was the highest in the league among backs with at least 150 attempts.
2. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins: He’s still only 24 years old and is coming off a 10-touchdown season that featured 1,269 yards from scrimmage. The 2012 fourth-round pick hasn’t always been consistent, but his ability to explode with monster performances should land him a starting job somewhere.
3. Chris Ivory, New York Jets: The 27-year-old was one of only seven backs to go over the 1,000-yard mark last season. Ivory’s about as consistent as a running back can get and is extremely tough to tackle, but his ceiling isn’t as high as Miller’s.
4. Bilal Powell, New York Jets: The fifth-year back averaged a solid 4.5 yards per carry in limited action with the Jets. He doesn’t have Ivory’s body of work but has the potential to become a key cog in 2016.
5. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: How much gas is left in the tank? Forte has the best résumé on this list and is a stellar runner and receiver, but he’s averaged just 4.0 yards per carry the last two seasons and is on the wrong side of 30. The eight-year veteran can no longer be relied on in a featured role but could be a great complementary weapon somewhere.
6. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos: He’s only 24, and his productivity has jumped in each of his first four seasons.
7. Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: The 30-year-old is no longer a 1,000-yard guy but he has the explosiveness and the experience to be a solid platoon contributor. Johnson has really redeemed himself the last couple years.
8. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins: The 27-year-old’s numbers have plummeted the last couple years, and he doesn’t bring a lot to the table if he isn’t producing on the ground.
9. James Starks, Green Bay Packers: The six-year veteran remade himself a bit last season with a great year as a receiver. Problem is he’s 30, and he struggled down the stretch.
10. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots: He gets hot and cold and isn’t very versatile. Oh, and he’ll turn 30 next season. Blount will be a depth guy somewhere, but that’s likely the best-case scenario.