The running back position is an interesting one. While the value of the franchise quarterback has increased exponentially in recent years, we’ve seen a bit of a shift as far as RB value goes. The term “dime a dozen” gets used a lot when discussing the guys that smash head-first into the trenches 20+ times a game. With so much emphasis on the passing game, teams are less and less likely to use high draft picks or big money on a RB, though there are some exceptions.
DOLPHINS RB SITUATION:
It would be tough to say that running back is a big need for Miami this off-season–it’s certainly not a top priority. In fact, the team has already signed a RB this winter: big Jerome Messam who played the last couple of years in the CFL. At 6’3, 245lbs, Messam will be a nice complement to Reggie Bush, who is coming off the best season of his career (1,086 rushing yards and 7 total touchdowns). Don’t forget about Daniel Thomas, either, who still managed to run for close to 600 yards in 13 games despite battling a couple of nagging injuries. Lex Hilliard is a restricted free agent who may compete with Messam and Steve Slaton, effective at times last year, is unrestricted. If the Fins do bring in another back or two this off-season, you’d have to imagine they’d mainly be bodies for training camp and insurance purposes.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENTS:
Cedric Benson: Benson had a productive 2011 for the Bengals, running for 1,067 yards. Seven seasons in and at 29 years old, he doesn’t appear to be slowing down, either, having started all but one game for Cincinnati the last two seasons.
Michael Bush: A big, physical guy (6’1, 24lbs), Bush ran for nearly 1,000 yards last season and took the ball into the endzone eight times for the Raiders. Would be a nice fit for a team looking for a “thunder” back to pair with a smaller, quicker “lightning” type.
Peyton Hillis: The reigning Madden cover boy had a bit of a cursed 2011 season, playing in just 10 games and running for less than half the amount of yards he did in 2010. It certainly seems like his time in Cleveland has come and it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up–and in what kind of role.
Mike Tolbert: In four years as the Chargers #2 back, Tolbert established himself as a very legitimate runner as he heads onto the open market for the first time in his career. When you talk about his productivity, you certainly have to talk about his touchdowns: 19 in the last two seasons on the ground (Ray Rice had 17 in the same time frame).
Other running backs that are free agents-to-be include Ronnie Brown, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, LaDanian Tomlinson, Derrick Ward, and Cadillac Williams.
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