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FutureStarrMaking Sense of NFL Backfields After RB Movement in Free Agency
Over the past few days, there has been an explosion in free agency running back activity. Here we take a closer look at some of the top options at this position right now.
Teams have to make some difficult choices when adding a RB1 player, as there are limited quality options available.
This past week, there was an abundance of running back movement in free agency. One particularly surprising decision came from the Miami Dolphins as they released Sony Michel.
After Michel's release, reports surfaced of him meeting with the Los Angeles Chargers. With a need to improve their running back depth, adding Michel would be an ideal addition for the team.
The Chargers have made a major addition to their defensive line by signing linebacker Eric Kendricks, who spent most of last season with the Minnesota Vikings. Kendricks has been a starter at linebacker throughout much of his career and should provide them with an experienced playmaker that can step in when Bryan Bulaga is absent.
Kendricks will offer competition to Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree III - all of whom remain starters on the roster. Not only will his presence provide depth for the defense, but it will also enable the Chargers to focus on strengthening their offensive line.
On offense, the Chargers return six of their top target-getters from last season: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, Josh Palmer, Jalen Guyton and Donald Parham. Furthermore, they added Gerald Everett to their tight end group.
The Chargers are looking to make some major moves this offseason, with a focus on improving their offensive line. Other areas need attention include running back, tight end and wide receiver. If the Chargers can address these needs within the next few weeks, it will be an impressive accomplishment in terms of improving their roster.
With all of the running back activity in free agency this year, it can be challenging to make sense of an NFL backfield. There are so many different players and styles to consider; here are some tips for navigating this vast landscape of backfields.
The New England Patriots have always been known for their versatility in the backfield, but this season they've taken it to another level. By adding two rookies in Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris, Bill Belichick now has more options at his disposal at running back but also some questions surrounding whether these players will stick around long term.
Strong (Round 4) has already demonstrated his versatility in the past, surpassing 1,000 yards rushing three of his four seasons at South Dakota State and excelling on special teams. Furthermore, Strong is a big-play threat with 10 career touchdowns of 50 yards or more.
He may not be a huge pass-catcher, but his speed and agility make him a valuable fantasy asset when on the field. Additionally, Sony Michel can use some help from him as well.
Fantasy owners looking to build around the Patriots this season might consider adding White as a complement. Though White has achieved 100 receiving yards twice in three years, his value will be limited due to his inability to break tackles and high fumble rate.
James Robinson could potentially solve those issues and help bolster the passing game, though it's difficult to predict his impact due to his injury history. With so much talent at his disposal, Robinson will likely need to earn his playing time this season.
The New York Giants have plenty of reasons to be excited about their backfield, particularly Saquon Barkley. He has rushed for over 260 yards and scored six touchdowns each of the past two seasons, demonstrating his ability to catch the ball as an integral part of their offense.
Though it's hard to envision Barkley leaving the Giants, there are plenty of teams who might be interested in signing him as a free agent. Miami ranked 24th in NFL rushing offense last season and could potentially give Barkley an opportunity to help lead them towards another deep postseason run in 2023.
Another potential destination for Barkley could be Philadelphia, which has a history of signing high-profile free agents. The Eagles have often moved quarterbacks during free agency and currently have some cap space available.
In addition to Barkley, there are several other players on the market who could be appealing targets for a Giants team looking to bolster their backfield. These include Singletary, Cullen Gillaspia and Casey Kreiter.
These players possess some potential, yet their long-term prospects remain uncertain. It's difficult to forecast how these players will perform once they join the Giants since many have limited NFL experience.
One player lacking depth is S Chris Johnson, a former 7th-round pick of the Houston Texans who spent time on their practice squad in 2020 and 2021. While Johnson has yet to play in a regular-season game and is considered a "street" player, his ability to contribute at high levels should provide some additional depth along the defensive line.
At the start of the 2023 league year, three of Miami Dolphins' four running backs will become unrestricted free agents and thus require significant changes in their backfield. Fortunately, there are a few options available to address this issue this offseason.
Miami may consider Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders as an option. He has quietly built an impressive career in the NFL and proven that he is an elite back.
The Dolphins would likely need to pay more for Sanders in order to secure his services, but given his success rate and potential as a big-play home run back who can put teammates in position, it makes sense for them to invest.
Another potential option for the Dolphins could be San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert. He is familiar with coach Mike McDaniel's running scheme and has a history of producing at an elite level.
Unfortunately, Mostert hasn't been a reliable starter for the past several seasons due to injuries. Furthermore, at 30 years old he may not have the same level of talent that he had when younger; thus his value on the market will differ accordingly.
In the offseason, Miami Dolphins owner Don Mattingly managed to add stability at running back by signing former Dallas Cowboys stars Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed. These signings give their squad a formidable group of speedy running backs that will compete for carries this season. While these players won't be high-end fantasy options, they are expected to play an important role in the offense this year.
Due to the RB movement in free agency, there has been a notable shift in how NFL teams will approach their backfields. Many are taking note of their needs and looking to fill those spots with younger players who can provide long-term stability.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a wealth of young talent at running back. Though Miles Sanders was traded away to the Carolina Panthers, Kenneth Gainwell and re-signed Boston Scott remain solid options at the top of their depth chart.
Regarding their other needs, the Eagles must replace some talent at defensive line, linebacker and safety. Defensive tackle Milton Williams has shown flashes of potential throughout his career; however Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean appear likely to break into starting roles next season.
Second-year pro Reed Blankenship had a limited role as C.J. Gardner-Johnson's midseason replacement, but his physicality and potential could make him an invaluable addition to any revamped defense.
If the Eagles can successfully retain some of these players, they should have no problems filling out their roster in the future. On the contrary, if some of these key players depart, their depth could be tested for the first time in many years.
Fletch Bradberry is coming off one of his best seasons as an Eagles, compiling 12 pass breakups and three interceptions last season. As a veteran leader and fan/locker room favorite, I believe the Eagles would offer him a home-team discount to keep him in Philadelphia. Whether or not he accepts it, I believe he would be delighted to return for another year.