Toby Gerhart is a Top-10 Free Agent Flop
Taking a look around NFL coverage, I noticed an article on top-10 free agent flops over at NFL.com. Based on how Toby Gerhart has played at running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season, I figured I’d see Gerhart’s name on the list. I was not disappointed. Gerhart came in eighth on the list.
Here’s what Chris Wesseling had to say:
"8. Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars running back: The Jaguars spent the offseason hyping Gerhart as a workhorse back who would be the focal point of their offense. After attributing his disappointing September to run-blocking woes, it quickly became obvious that he was the problem when Denard Robinson rushed for 329 yards in a three-game span."
Part of the concern here is that the Jaguars did indeed hype Gerhart as a workhorse running back. While he is built for it, Gerhart never truly carried the load as a workhorse in Minnesota. That job was almost always Adrian Peterson’s. Yet with his size and bruising running style the Jaguars were willing to take a gamble on Gerhart and give him a three year contract. As it turns out, this was the wrong billing. Gerhart is a role player and his bruising style worked well in Minnesota because he was a great spell back for Peterson. It’s quickly become apparent that gambling on marketing Gerhart as the workhorse to replace Maurice Jones-Drew was a major mistake.
Another thing to look at is his production. Gerhart has been easily surpassed by Denard Robinson. While Robinson continues to show that the running troubles were likely because of Gerhart, Gerhart has quietly settled into his role as the second back on the roster. In last week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals he accounted for 19 yards on the ground from three carries and another 49 yards from three receptions. He’s once again proving he can be an effective member of a roster, just as a backup.
Gerhart is undoubtedly a free agent flop. He likely isn’t worth the $10.5 million the Jaguars are scheduled to pay him (or the $4 million he will get this year) but he is settling back into being a productive player for the team.
The Jaguars have rarely missed with big free agents with Dave Caldwell as general manager. It’s obvious that the narrative around Gerhart could have been better spun so he wouldn’t appear to be as big of a flop if he didn’t produce. It’s too late for that now and I imagine the front office has learned at least a small lesson. Hopefully Gerhart will be a great role player behind Denard Robinson’s broad shoulders for the net three years.