2020 Free Agency Positional Preview – Running Backs
Leading up to the beginning of free agency (3/18 at 4pmET), we’ll be looking position by position at the available free agent pool and discussing the state of the pool (for gems, sleepers, busts) and making some throwaway predictions on the landing spots of the top free agents.
Today, we look at: Running Backs
You can build a nice backfield, fairly inexpensively, with this free agent class of RBs. You could also overspend for ‘names’ and make a big mistake.
Where will the ‘dumb’ spend their money? Whatever team signs Melvin Gordon to a hefty deal is dumb…and if you’re a fan of that team, you should renounce your fan-ship with them. We’ll predict where that is below.
Arizona looks like they want to be that ‘dumb’ team that goes heavy on Kenyan Drake. Nothing against Drake, but for the money he’s asking for…you’ve gotta be kidding me. Ask yourself, Steve Keim, “What would Jesus/Bill Belichick do?” He would never pay for a solid RB in free agency. He’ll steal a bargain off the scrap heap but he’d never pay big for a running back. All you need to know about the Arizona regime is going to play out with how they handle Drake.
Kliff Kingsbury wants Drake, bad…but it makes little sense if the cost is outrageous. Steve Keim wants Drake too, but he knows it’s a bad deal. If they sign Drake to a silly/big deal, then you know who is driving the bus (off a Kliff) in Arizona. If they pass on expensive Drake, then smart thinking wins the day and we can have Arizona hope ahead.
Why teams would chase Melvin Gordon and ignore a much cheaper Carlos Hyde or Jordan Howard is beyond me. What does Jordan Howard have to do to get any respect in this league? The guy has been great every season he’s played when you give him the damn ball. Ditto Hyde. Both guys have been producers, and both get treated like garbage in the NFL – some teams are going to benefit from Hyde or Howard in 2020; just like 2019.
RB free agents of note: Derrick Henry, Lamar Miller, Chris Thompson to go along with Gordon, Howard, Hyde, Drake.
Also, Austin Ekeler and Kareem Hunt are restricted free agents for their teams to deal with.
We’ll predict the landing spots for all of them and a few other names of note, but here are my free agent spotlights in the class…the Best, the Bust, the Sleeper and Deep Sleeper of the Guard/Center group…
BEST = Derrick Henry, obviously…but I cannot imagine the Titans let him get away, but some team could break the bank for him. He’s going where the money is.
BUST = Melvin Gordon…he’s been overrated since he entered the league. His ridiculously humiliating holdout exposed a truth – everyone thinks like I do on him, finally…overrated.
SLEEPER = Jordan Howard…was the bulldog 1,000+ yard runner first two seasons in Chicago. Somehow was not a fit for Matt Nagy (but awful David Montgomery is?) and was shipped to Philly, who does not start him at first but then he just took over the backfield after a few weeks. If Howard had not gotten a stinger, he would have been a big producer for Philly, not Sanders/Scott, down the stretch. The NFL media and fans still dismiss him as ‘nothing’.
DEEP SLEEPER = Dwayne Washington has a running back upside to go with the fact he’s turned himself into a nice special teams guy. A team can get RB depth with upside and a key special teamer here, if they paid attention.
Derrick Henry = You have to assume Tennessee strikes the deal or applies a franchise tag. His presence makes Ryan Tannehill good and the O-Line seem great.
Melvin Gordon = Tampa Bay would be a guess, if they don’t trade to acquire David Johnson. The Jets could be in play if they deal Le’Veon. A one-year deal to a contender is not out of the question…possibly a Gurley-replacement in L.A. Seattle might be in play to make an RB duo, if the price is right. I’ll guess Tampa Bay with little confidence I’m right.
Carlos Hyde = Probably re-signs with Houston. It’s the easiest thing for either side.
Jordan Howard = Could go to Houston if Hyde catches a better deal. The Chargers could replace Gordon here. My dart-throw prediction – goes to the Detroit Lions to team up with Kerryon (and possibly takeover).
Kenyan Drake = I assume Arizona, but he may price himself out…but they want him so badly. I’ll say he signs here, and DJ is traded.
Lamar Miller = Perhaps if Hyde/Howard are gone, Houston goes back with him. Miller may not land anywhere until the season is already in progress…waiting for an injury to spring him.
C.J. Prosise = Oakland with Mike Mayock, former Notre Dame analyst taking a cheap look?
Dwayne Washington = No one will pay attention and he’ll quietly sign with an appreciative Saints team.
Chris Thompson = Goes to Jacksonville with Jay Gruden, on a cheap deal.
Austin Ekeler = Definitely stays in L.A.; he is Anthony Lynn’s guy.
Kareem Hunt = The real wildcard. It makes sense for Cleveland to re-sign him/match a deal under restricted free agent rules. However, the new management group may rather take a 2nd-round pick and let him go…if so, he’s going to Tampa Bay, I’d almost guarantee – he’s the perfect Bruce Arians guy. Houston or the Rams could make a move and watch out for Atlanta coming in strong competing with Tampa Bay for him.
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