2014 NFL Free Agent Tracker: Running Backs

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2014 NFL Free Agent Tracker: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2014.
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  1. Ben Tate, RB, Texans. Age: 26.
    Signed with Browns (2 years, $7 million)

    Ben Tate suffered a season-ending injury prior to his rookie campaign in 2010, allowing Arian Foster to take over as Houston’s primary running back. Had this never happened, Tate probably would’ve been an occasional Pro Bowler. Tate is a very talented runner, though he’s not nearly as effective on third down as Foster happens to be. He’s also injury-prone, which is why he’s not rated higher.

  2. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos. Age: 27.
    Signed with Dolphins (1 year)

    The Montee Ball draft pick seemed to light a fire under Knowshon Moreno, who is coming off a career year. There’s definitely concern, however, that he didn’t start giving maximum effort until his contract season. Also, don’t forget how injury-prone he’s been before 2013. Caveat emptor.

  3. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Raiders (1 year, $4 million)

    Darren McFadden has been through so many injuries that he’s been sapped of all explosiveness. He’s averaged 3.5 yards per carry or worse the past two seasons. Perhaps he can rebound in a better offense and become a legitimate threat again.

  4. Andre Brown, RB, Giants. Age: 27.
    Andre Brown is a strong runner who happens to be a solid pass-catcher. He also blocks well. Unfortunately, he had a fumbling problem down the stretch.

  5. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots. Age: 27.
    Signed with Steelers (2 years)

    LeGarrette Blount has turned his career around in New England. Tampa Bay thoughtlessly discarded him, yet Blount was able to find a home with the Patriots. He averaged five yards per carry in 2013, though he still isn’t any sort of factor in the passing game.

  6. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars. Age: 29.
    Signed with Raiders (3 years)

    Maurice Jones-Drew’s 2013 campaign was easily the worst of his career, but two things to keep in mind: First, he was running behind an offensive line with no talent whatsoever, all while opposing defenses were stacking the box against him. Second, he had a terrible injury in 2012, so he wasn’t 100 percent. I wouldn’t be surprised if he bounces back in 2014, assuming, of course, he lands in a much better situation.

  7. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans. Age: 28.
    Signed with Jets (2 years)

    One of the most overrated players in the NFL, Chris Johnson hasn’t been good for years. He’s a poor runner because he’s way too indecisive, resulting in lots of negative runs. This was acceptable when he used to break 50-yard runs quite frequently, but those days – along with his elite speed – are long gone. Johnson turns 29 in September, so he’s going to just get it worse, and to top it off, he stinks in pass protection, so he can’t really be used on third downs. He would probably be an overrated commodity if the demand for running backs wasn’t so low.

  8. ***Darren Sproles, RB, Saints. Age: 31.
    Traded to Eagles

    ***DARREN SPROLES IS NOT A FREE AGENT (IN FACT, HE WAS JUST TRADED TO THE EAGLES). Turning 31 in June, Darren Sproles is no longer the player he once was, which would explain why the Saints cut him to save $3.5 million. However, Sproles is still an effective weapon coming out of the backfield. He caught 71 passes for 604 receiving yards in 2013.

  9. Donald Brown, RB, Colts. Age: 27.
    Signed with Chargers (3 years, $10.5 million)

    The Trent Richardson trade sparked Donald Brown, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 2013. He’s a quality pass-catcher.

  10. Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders. Age: 29.
    Signed with Giants

    Rashad Jennings was given a chance to prove himself when Maurice Jones-Drew suffered an injury in 2012, but struggled mightily. That’s why it was so surprising that he thrived with the Raiders, outplaying Darren McFadden by a wide margin.

  11. Joique Bell (RFA), RB, Lions. Age: 28.
    Re-signed with Lions (2 years, $7 million)

    Joique Bell is a great pass-catching running back. He’s caught at least 50 balls in each of the past two seasons.

  12. James Starks, RB, Packers. Age: 28.
    Re-signed with Packers (2 years)

    James Starks averaged 5.5 yards per carry this season behind Eddie Lacy. He can be used as a starter, but he’s better off as a strong, chance-of-pace No. 2 back.

  13. Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers. Age: 25.
    Signed with Cardinals (1 year)

    Jonathan Dwyer is a quality pass protector and can get the needed distance in short-yardage situations.

  14. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts. Age: 28.
    Re-signed with Colts (1 year)

    Ahmad Bradshaw is a quality runner when he’s actually on the field, but he’s dealt with way too many foot and neck injuries to be relied upon as a starter.

  15. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals. Age: 27.
    Announced retirement

    There’s no reason Rashard Mendenhall should’ve received more touches than Andre Ellington in the second half of this past season. He’s just yet another Big Ten plodder.

  16. Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings. Age: 27. — Signed with Jaguars (3 years, $10.5 million)
  17. Michael Bush, RB, Bears. Age: 30.
  18. Brian Leonard, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 30.
  19. Jordan Todman (RFA), RB, Jaguars. Age: 24. — Tendered by Jaguars
  20. Felix Jones, RB, Steelers. Age: 27.
  21. Ronnie Brown, RB, Chargers. Age: 32. — Signed with Texans
  22. Fozzy Whittaker, RB, Browns. Age: 25.
  23. La’Rod Stephens-Howling, RB, Steelers. Age: 27.
  24. Anthony Dixon, RB, 49ers. Age: 26. — Signed with Bills
  25. Phillip Tanner, RB, Cowboys. Age: 26.
  26. Justin Forsett, RB, Jaguars. Age: 28. — Signed with Ravens
  27. Willis McGahee, RB, Browns. Age: 32.
  28. Bernard Scott, RB, Ravens. Age: 30.
  29. Kahlil Bell, RB, Packers. Age: 27.
  30. Tashard Choice, RB, Colts. Age: 29.
  31. Delone Carter, RB, Jaguars. Age: 27.
  32. Alfonso Smith (RFA), RB, Cardinals. Age: 27.

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