There are quite a few teams that will be looking for some help in the backfield during the off-season. Teams that are rebuilding or that will be looking to add depth at a vital position for success will get their first shot at free agents until the draft in April. The RB pool in the free-agent market is filled with lots of experience and different types of players. Where might some of these players end up?
Miller tore his ACL in the pre-season this year and unfortunately had to miss the entire 2019 season. Miller has shown that he can be a versatile back and has good speed and the ability to work out of the backfield. In 7 season he has averaged 4.3 yards per carry and has been a solid back. Heading into 2020 there is some question about where he will end up. After his injury, the Texans had to make a move at RB and added Carlos Hyde. Hyde will also be a free agent heading into 2020 so the team is going to have some choices to make as discussed in depth by @FF_Peacock. The team could decide to keep both RBs but the cost to keep both could be an issue with all the roster changes the team will have to decide on this offseason. If the Texans don’t bring Miller back next season there are some suitors out there that would try and make him an offer.
The Lions have had some issues with injuries at the RB position, particularly in Kerryon Johnson. The Lions struggled to get the rushing attack going this year, finishing 21st so adding a versatile back in Miller to help relieve the stress on a healthy Stafford could be dangerous on the offensive side of the ball. Miller could add another level to Bo Scarbrough and Kerryon Johnson. The Lions could use the depth and adding a RB with some experience could be valuable. The Lions have very little to lose with this move but there is potential for big upside.
The Bucs finished the season with the 24th ranked rushing attack and struggled to find any consistency in the backfield. Barber and Jones have not looked like the solution for the Bucs so they very well could look to add some quality depth at the position. The Bucs have a huge amount available in cap space this year, over $80 million according to Spotrac. Miller could fit well into the Bucs offense, giving Winston a potential target to check down to and his ability to break big plays could help them out. His experience could also bring something to the backfield that could help set the tone for the level of play the team is going to expect each week. The Bucs could be a good fit for Miller and Arians could find some exciting ways to use him.
Thompson has been one of Washington’s most productive RBs over the last few seasons with 2017 being his best season with over 800 yards. He has struggled with injuries recently and has missed some time that hurt his chances of making an impact on the field. Washington has made a lot of coaching and management changes this offseason so it is not a guarantee that any player will make the roster heading into next year. Washington currently has Thompson, Peterson, Guice, and Love at RB. Love missed the season recovering from an injury, so it is uncertain what he is going to look like in the NFL. Guice has struggled with major injuries in the last 2 years but his durability is definitely in question. Peterson has shown that he can still maintain the bulk of the work when needed and provided some guidance for the younger players. The backfield is going to need some work heading into 2020. I think it would be a bit of a surprise if Washington didn’t bring Thompson back next season since he has been one of the more reliable options on the offense. If Washington did not bring him back next season there might be some teams that would try and make a move for the dynamic playmaker but the most interesting might be:
The Chargers will most likely enter 2020 without their starting QB and RB from this season. The Chargers had to deal with Gordon’s holdout last year and it is unlikely that he will return this season when another team will pay him more. This means that the Chargers will be looking to add depth at RB. Ekelar showed that he is a great player, but there is some question about his long term durability. The chargers also have Jackson that showed some spark this year, but they will still need more help in the backfield. Thompson could be a huge asset in the Chargers offense. With his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and create mismatches in the passing game he could add another explosive player in their backfield.
The Chargers stating back for the last few seasons will most likely be moving on to a new team heading into 2020. He is looking to get a big payday for his play as a top RB in the league. The Chargers will not be willing to spend the $10 Million plus a year that he will be looking for, especially after Ekelar was able to step in at the beginning of the 2019 season and put up very similar production in their offense. Gordon will be one of the most sought-after players in the free-agent market. So which teams with enough cap space will go after Gordon that could make sense for both parties?
The Dolphins did not start the year the way they wanted to but showed some improvement toward the end of the year. In 2020 the Dolphins will be in desperate need of a starting RB with proven experience. The only backs will with the team that saw action from 2019 are Ballage and Gaskin currently. With Fitzpatrick returning in 2020 he should be able to keep the passing attack in good form. The Dolphins will need to improve their line heading into 2020 also, but getting a work horse back like Gordon could help. Bringing in a proven and productive back would help the younger guys improve as well as giving the team a spark. Gordon and the Dolphins could be a good match in 2020.
One of the best places Gordon could probably end up is in a Bills Jersey next year. The Bills are a playoff team with a chip on their shoulders. Gore was the work horse back this year but he is nearing the end of his career and it is up in the air if he will play another season with the Bills or the NFL. Even if Gore comes back to the league Gordon would be a younger back that could help the Bills sustain their success into the future. Gordon would split the work with Singletary in the backfield but based on the Bills run-first approach Gordon would be able to fit right into their scheme. He is a decent sized back that can easily run between the tackles for the team. Even if he split carries with Singletary, assuming both stay healthy they would be splitting 20-30 carries a game which in the Bills offense could be extremely productive. The other benefit for the Bills would be the reduced ball-carrying that Allen would have to do. If they can reduce the number of hits he is taking while also still being very productive on the ground with two explosive backs they would put themselves into a very good situation. This would be an exciting landing spot for one of the league’s best RBs.
Running Back Free Agency Predictions: Lamar Miller, Chris Thompson & Melvin GordonTweet