DeMarco Murray and 4 Other Free Agent Running Backs for the Jacksonville Jaguars
By Luke Sims
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DeMarco Murray will be able to test free agency just like a slew of other free agent running backs.
Free agent running backs are flooding the market
right now as teams jettison them for under-performance, cap space, or a desire to go younger in what promises to be a quality running back draft class. Players like Reggie Bush, Steven Jackson, and DeAngelo Williams are going to have their phones ringing during free agency as they offer veteran services to teams looking to improve the ground game.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of those teams.
While I personally think the team will go after a running back in the draft instead of in free agency, with quality veterans available the Jaguars should certainly spend some serious time thinking about picking one of them up. Toby Gerhart under-performed last season as the big free agent splash and Denard Robinson over-performed for a few weeks. Jordan Todman and Storm Johnson look more and more like “just guys” so getting a new veteran running back could make for a strong committee of runners with Robinson and Gerhart splitting time.
While I love the idea of the Jags using a workhorse, it’s obvious that they don’t have one on the roster and without using a high draft draft pick on a running back, they likely won’t get one. Some of the guys I’m about to list aren’t really workhorses anymore either. A committee, completed from either from the draft or from free agency, looks like it could be the future for the Jaguars.
There’s plenty of money for the Jags to spend this offseason, so we may as well look at every – including running back – as a spot to spend.
So, let’s look at the top five free agent running backs I see for the Jaguars.
Dec 28, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) runs the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
1) Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
I love the work Mark Ingram has put together during his first few seasons in the NFL. While he hasn’t put together a single 1,000 yard season yet, Ingram has shown to be a bruising ground force for teams and can wear down defenses. Also importantly, he is great for red zone running options. He racked up an impressive nine touchdowns last year (about one TD for every 100 yards), something the Jaguars would love to have on their offense. Last year was the first season Ingram eclipsed 200 rushing attempts (226) so the fifth-year back has plenty of tread left on his tires.
Dec 7, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) is brought down by New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich (50) during fourth quarter action at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
2) Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Mathews has struggled to stay on the field in his career, completing just one 16-game season in his five years in the league. His talent, however, is undeniable and limiting his carries could keep him on the field longer. What I love about Mathews is that he has managed to keep his average per attempt above 4.0 for every season except one. He averaged near three yards after contact in 2014, suggesting he could succeed for the Jaguars even if the offensive line doesn’t improve this offseason. If the Jags could keep him on the field as part of a committee, he’d be a strong addition.
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