2018 NFL Free Agents: Running Backs

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2018 NFL Free Agency: Star rating is out of five. Age listing as of Sept. 1, 2018.
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  1. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers. Age: 26.
    Franchised by Steelers

    Le’Veon Bell is one of the elite play-making weapons in the NFL. He’s a tremendous runner who has averaged at least 4.7 yards per carry in three of his past four seasons. He’s even better as a receiver; he caught 85 passes in 2017.

  2. Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs. Age: 23.
    A video of Kareem Hunt hitting a woman surfaced, prompting his release. Hunt was going to be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list anyway, facing a six-game suspension. Hunt is way too talented to be kept out of the NFL in the future (unlike Ray Rice, who was washed up when his video surfaced), so if he shows remorse, he’ll be given a chance at some point down the road. The team that signs him will suffer a PR hit, but PR hits never end up mattering at all except to the media and complainers on Twitter, so I imagine this is a move Kansas City will ultimately regret.

  3. Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots. Age: 27.
    Signed with Titans

    Dion Lewis has a horrible injury history, but he’s a tremendous running back when healthy. He finally remained on the field the entire season in 2017, and it paid off. Lewis rushed for 895 yards on a 5.0 YPC clip and also caught 32 passes for 214 receiving yards.

  4. Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers. Age: 27.
    Signed with Browns (3 years)

    Carlos Hyde has averaged better than four yards per carry throughout his career despite never running behind a strong offensive line. He has also been paired with mostly terrible quarterbacks throughout his time in San Francisco. Hyde has the potential to explode in the right situation.

  5. C.J. Anderson, RB, Panthers. Age: 27.
    Signed with Raiders

    It’s unclear why the Broncos felt the need to trade or cut their best running back by a mile, but they did the latter with C.J. Anderson. The 27-year-old is coming off a 1,000-yard season in which he averaged 4.1 yards per carry, a solid number considering the state of his sub-par offensive line. Anderson should have plenty of suitors on the open market.

  6. DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans. Age: 30.
    Announced retirement

    DeMarco Murray is coming off the worst season of his career. He averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. He also just turned 30 in February, so his best days are obviously behind him. Still, Murray carried the ball only 184 times in 2017, so his legs are fresh. He’s also still a dynamic receiving back – 39 catches this past season – so he can still contribute despite his poor 2017 campaign.

  7. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns. Age: 25.
    Signed with Jets (3 years)

    Isaiah Crowell has a lot of natural talent, and he flashed it early in 2016 before the Browns had offensive line issues. However, he was a big disappointment this past season, failing to do anything behind an excellent front (when Joe Thomas was healthy.)

  8. Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots. Age: 28.
    Re-signed with Patriots (3 years)

    Rex Burkhead is a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none running back. He’s decent at catching passes (30 receptions in 2017) and can plunge into the end zone effectively from the goal line. He also averaged 4.1 yards per carry behind an offensive line with some injury issues.

  9. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 29.
    Signed with Raiders

    It’s a shame what Tampa Bay’s partying lifestyle did to Doug Martin’s career. Martin, a first-round pick from the 2012 NFL Draft, had 1,400-yard rushing seasons in 2012 and 2015, but has been in the 400s in every other year. Martin has suffered through injuries and lethargy, and he was highly ineffective this past season, averaging a career-worst 2.9 yards per carry. Martin may have checked out forever, but I’d give him a chance with a 1-year “prove it” deal to see if he can bounce back.

  10. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings. Age: 26.
    Signed with 49ers (4 years)

    Jerick McKinnon isn’t a very good runner – he hasn’t been able to eclipse four yards per carry in either of his previous two seasons – but he’s an effective receiver out of the backfield. He had 51 receptions in 2017 and 43 the year before.

  11. Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys. Age: 29.
    Signed with 49ers

    Alfred Morris proved he can still be an effective running back in this league this past season. Despite missing Tyron Smith for several of his starts, Morris rushed for 4.8 yards per carry.

  12. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals. Age: 25.
    Signed with Patriots

    Jeremy Hill had an outstanding rookie campaign in 2014, gaining 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns. However, Hill has yet to average more than 3.8 yards per carry in a season since. He’s been a big disappointment, but he has the talent to turn his career around.

  13. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles. Age: 31.
    Signed with Lions (1 year)

    LeGarrette Blount didn’t handle a full workload in 2017, especially after Jay Ajayi was acquired. However, he averaged 4.4 yards per carry while gaining 766 yards and two touchdowns. He just turned 31, so he won’t be around much longer.

  14. Thomas Rawls (RFA), RB, Seahawks. Age: 25.
    Signed with Jets

    Thomas Rawls showed tremendous potential as a rookie, rushing for 830 yards on a 5.6 YPC carry. Injuries and lethargy have hurt him in the past two seasons, but he has potential to bounce back to 2015 form.

  15. Adrian Peterson, RB, Cardinals. Age: 33.
    Signed with Redskins

    Adrian Peterson had two great performances for the Cardinals last year, but did nothing otherwise, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. In fact, he failed to average better than two yards per carry in three of his final five games in Arizona. He’s done, unfortunately.

  16. Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants. Age: 26.
    None of the Giants’ running backs were any good this past season, but Orleans Darkwa was the best of the bunch, averaging 4.3 yards per carry despite some horrific blocking in front of him.

  17. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers. Age: 31.
    Signed with Giants

    Jonathan Stewart is a big name, but he hasn’t played up to it in a couple of seasons. He has failed to reach four yards per carry in each of the past two years. Many injuries throughout his career have compounded and weighed him down – he hasn’t played a full season since 2011 – and at 31, he appears to be finished.

  18. Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars. Age: 30.
    Signed with Bills

    Chris Ivory should probably be a 1.5-star free agent, but he’s a big name, so I’ll give him a write-up. General manager David Caldwell made an incredibly stupid move two offseasons ago when he signed Ivory to a 5-year, $32.5 million deal. Ivory, in two seasons with Jacksonville, rushed for a combined 821 yards, scoring five total touchdowns. He averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in 2017, and he turns 30 in March.

  19. Frank Gore, RB, Colts. Age: 34.
    Signed with Dolphins

    Despite being 34, Frank Gore had some nice performances last year, registering 961 yards behind a poor offensive line. He also caught 29 passes.

  20. Charcandrick West, RB, Jets. Age: 27.
    Signed with Chiefs

    Charcandrick West had some nice moments for the Chiefs, but couldn’t get playing time over Kareem Hunt and Spencer Ware, so he was released to save $1.7 million. West would be a nice addition for a team as a capable third-down or change-of-pace back.

  21. Christine Michael, RB, Colts. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Colts
  22. Mike Davis (RFA), RB, Seahawks. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Seahawks
  23. Jamaal Charles, RB, Jaguars. Age: 31.
  24. Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
  25. Branden Oliver, RB, Chargers. Age: 27. — Signed with Colts
  26. Kenjon Barner, RB, Eagles. Age: 28.
  27. Benny Cunningham, RB, Bears. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Bears
  28. Shane Vereen, RB, Giants. Age: 29. — Signed with Saints
  29. Alfred Blue, RB, Texans. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Jaguars
  30. Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles. Age: 35.
  31. Danny Woodhead, RB, Ravens. Age: 33. — Announced retirement
  32. Andre Ellington, RB, Texans. Age: 29.
  33. Corey Grant (RFA), RB, Jaguars. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Jaguars
  34. Terron Ward (RFA), RB, Falcons. Age: 26.
  35. Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals. Age: 36.
  36. Kapri Bibbs (RFA), RB, Redskins. Age: 25.
  37. Travaris Cadet, RB, Bills. Age: 29. — Signed with Panthers
  38. Bishop Sankey (RFA), RB, Vikings. Age: 25.
  39. Damien Williams, RB, Dolphins. Age: 26. — Signed with Chiefs
  40. Zach Zenner (RFA), RB, Lions. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Lions

  41. Lance Dunbar, RB, Rams. Age: 28.
  42. Eddie Lacy, RB, Seahawks. Age: 28.
  43. Terrance West, RB, Ravens. Age: 27.
  44. George Winn (RFA), RB, Colts. Age: 27.
  45. Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots. Age: 28. — Signed with Jets
  46. Cedric Peerman, RB, Bengals. Age: 31.
  47. Andre Williams (RFA), RB, Chargers. Age: 26.
  48. Mike James, RB, Lions. Age: 27.
  49. Terrence Magee (RFA), RB, Falcons. Age: 25.
  50. Tyler Gaffney (RFA), RB, Jaguars. Age: 27.
  51. Taiwan Jones, RB, Bills. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Bills (1 year)

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