2016 NFL Free Agents: Running Backs

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2016 NFL Free Agency: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2016.
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  1. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Buccaneers (5 years, $35 million; $15 million guaranteed)

    Why is the NFL’s second-leading rusher getting only 3.5 stars? Well, Doug Martin has a history of being lethargic. He had two wasted years because of lacking effort. He had a great 2015 campaign, but only because he was playing for a contract. Still, there’s a chance Martin has completely matured and will continue to thrive, much like Mark Ingram did this year.

  2. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins. Age: 25.
    Signed with Texans (4 years, $26 million; $14 million guaranteed)

    Lamar Miller is a very talented running back who can catch passes effectively out of the backfield; he logged close to 50 receptions in 2015. I don’t know why, but Miami’s coaching staff never figured out that constantly feeding the ball to Miller is a good idea. That’s part of what makes him so appealing, as Miller, just 25 in April, doesn’t have much wear and tear on his body.

  3. Matt Forte, RB, Bears. Age: 30.
    Signed with Jets

    Matt Forte will be regarded as a top-level free agent by the public, but the fact of the matter is that he’ll turn 31 during the 2016 season. Forte has averaged 3.9 and 4.1 YPC the past two seasons as well. Forte is still fantastic as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, but he’s a bit overrated heading into free agency.

  4. C.J. Anderson (RFA), RB, Broncos. Age: 25.
    Re-signed with Broncos (4 years, $18 million)

    C.J. Anderson got off to a terrible start because his offensive line couldn’t block for him. He caught fire as the season progressed and finished with a 4.7 YPC – an impressive figure considering that the blocking wasn’t very good.

  5. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins. Age: 27.
    Signed with Cowboys (2 years, $3.5 million)

    Alfred Morris is an overrated player, thanks to fantasy football and Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme. Morris averaged just 3.7 YPC in 2015. That figure would’ve been better had the Redskins not dealt with injuries up front, but Morris is not the great running back most think he is.

  6. Karlos Williams, RB, Bills. Age: 23.
    Wow, what a fall from grace. Eight months ago, Karlos Williams was coming off a terrific rookie campaign and seemed to be Buffalo’s next great running back. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and was more impressive than LeSean McCoy most of the time. Williams, however, showed up to training camp 25 pounds overweight and then was suspended. Williams may have gotten into trouble again, which prompted this release. Still, Williams is incredibly talented, so some team may decide to take a chance on him.

  7. Bilal Powell, RB, Jets. Age: 27.
    Re-signed with Jets

    Bilal Powell was New York’s best running back down the stretch. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield was huge for the team. His absence in the season finale killed the team.

  8. Arian Foster, RB, Texans. Age: 30.
    Signed with Dolphins

    We reported last offseason that the Texans wanted to draft Todd Gurley to replace Arian Foster because the front office deemed Foster too injury-prone. Thus, it’s no surprise Houston cut ties with its starting running back. Foster ruined his career by changing his eating habits, which is a shame because he’s great when healthy. Unfortunately, he has missed 23 games in the past three years. He’ll need to sign a 1-year “prove it” contract this offseason. That, and take a trip to Arby’s.

  9. Chris Ivory, RB, Jets. Age: 28.
    Signed with Jaguars

    Chris Ivory was outstanding early in the 2015 season, but he wore down as the year went on and was ineffective toward the end. Given his running style, Ivory won’t be around much longer.

  10. Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos. Age: 24.
    Signed with Vikings

    C.J. Anderson out-played Ronnie Hillman this past season, but Hillman was still solid, averaging 4.2 YPC behind a pedestrian offensive line. Hillman also caught 24 passes.

  11. Khiry Robinson (RFA), RB, Saints. Age: 26.
    Signed with Jets

    Bill Parcells compared Khiry Robinson to Curtis Martin a couple of years ago, but Robinson has never lived up to that billing, as he has constantly dealt with injuries. Robinson hasn’t played more than 10 games in any season.

  12. Christine Michael (RFA), RB, Seahawks. Age: 25.
    Re-signed with Seahawks

    Christine Michael has great athletic ability, but it’s all about whether he can put it together mentally or not. He had some promising showings to close out the 2015 season.

  13. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots. Age: 29.
    Re-signed with Patriots (1 year, $1 million)

    LeGarrette Blount has shown that he can have an occasional great game, but in terms of weekly preparation and consistency, it’s just not there. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Patriots opted to move on.

  14. Tim Hightower, RB, Saints. Age: 30.
    Re-signed with Saints

    It was odd to see Tim Hightower perform well down the stretch after being out of the league for three years. Was it all a fluke? We’ll see. Unfortunately for Hightower, he turns 30 in May.

  15. Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens. Age: 30.
    Signed with Lions

    Justin Forsett was never a very good runner, and he’ll turn 31 in October. However, he can still contribute because of his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

  16. Chris Johnson, RB, Cardinals. Age: 30.
    Re-signed with Cardinals (1 year)

    Chris Johnson was unexpectedly terrific to kick off the 2015 season, but his production fell off a cliff as the year progressed, averaging 3.6 YPC or worse in four of his final five games. Turning 31 in September, he doesn’t have much left in the tank.

  17. James Starks, RB, Packers. Age: 30.
    Re-signed with Packers

    James Starks is a solid ball-carrier, as he averaged 4.1 YPC behind a poor offensive line in 2015. However, he has fumbling issues. He killed his team with some untimely turnovers down the stretch.

  18. C.J. Spiller, RB, Saints. Age: 29.
    Signed with Seahawks

    C.J. Spiller has proven to be a giant waste ever since signing a 4-year, $16 million deal last spring. Though he caught 34 passes, Spiller gained 3.1 yards per carry in 2015. He didn’t even play in Week 1, and the Saints appear to be better off without him. He can be a somewhat decent third-down back, but he should never be in position to handle any sort of workload on the ground.

  19. Lance Dunbar, RB, Cowboys. Age: 26. — Signed with Cowboys (1 year)
  20. Shaun Draughn, RB, 49ers. Age: 28. — Re-signed with 49ers
  21. Joique Bell, RB, Lions. Age: 30. — Signed with Bears
  22. Donald Brown, RB, Chargers. Age: 29. — Signed with Patriots
  23. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Bears. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Bears
  24. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts. Age: 30.
  25. Bryce Brown, RB, Seahawks. Age: 25.
  26. Fred Jackson, RB, Seahawks. Age: 35.
  27. Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants
  28. Stevan Ridley, RB, Lions. Age: 27.
  29. Chris Polk, RB, Texans. Age: 26.
  30. Pierre Thomas, RB, Redskins. Age: 31.
  31. Dan Herron, RB, Colts. Age: 27.
  32. Toby Gerhart, RB, Jaguars. Age: 29.
  33. Travaris Cadet, RB, Saints. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Saints
  34. Matt Asiata, RB, Vikings. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Vikings
  35. Benny Cunningham (RFA), RB, Rams. Age: 26. — Tendered by Rams (original)
  36. Jonathan Grimes (RFA), RB, Texans. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Texans
  37. Reggie Bush, RB, 49ers. Age: 31. — Signed with Bills
  38. Anthony Dixon, RB, Bills. Age: 28.
  39. Jordan Todman, RB, Steelers. Age: 26. — Signed with Colts
  40. Kendall Hunter, RB, Saints. Age: 27.
  41. Bernard Pierce, RB, Jaguars. Age: 25. — Signed with Jets
  42. Cyrus Gray, RB, Broncos. Age: 26.
  43. Steven Jackson, RB, Patriots. Age: 33.
  44. Chase Reynolds (RFA), RB, Rams. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Rams
  45. Joe Banyard (RFA), RB, Jaguars. Age: 27.

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