Adding a running back this offseason isn’t at the top of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ to-do list but injuries have turned what could have been a position of strength into a need. The Jags need to add depth to their running back group and Marlon Mack would be a low-key, solid addition in free agency.
Patrick Walker recently put together a list of valuable running backs that will be available in free agency and Mack’s name popped up. Walker points out that Mack used to be the Indianapolis Colts’ lead back as recently as 2019, when he toted the rock 247 times for 1,091 yards. However, he’s seen his playing time go drop with the emergence of Jonathan Taylor. All in all, Walker views Mack as a very capable back whose stock could use some work.
"It feels like it was just yesterday when Mack was the dominant back for the Colts — tearing off chunks of yards seemingly at will. That’s changed in a big way, though, with a stint on injured reserve in 2020 that led to the emergence of Jonathan Taylor. Mack has reportedly begun seeking an exit from Indy since, and that’s likely bolstered by having logged zero starts for the Colts and being active in only six games, rushing for just 101 yards and no touchdowns in 2021. Still a very capable back, Mack has a lot of work to do to rebuild his brand, and that might begin with a one-year “prove-it” deal somewhere."
Other running backs that appeared on Walker’s list were James Conner (Arizona Cardinals), Cordarelle Patterson (Atlanta Falcons), Melvin Gordon (Denver Broncos), and Sony Michael (Los Angeles Rams). All of them would be better options than Mack but if the Jaguars wanted a bargain signing with plenty of upside in free agency, he would be their best option.
Jaguars would get insurance in RB Marlon Mack.
It’s hard to blame the Colts for decreasing Marlon Mack’s workload. Jonathan Taylor is the more talented player and was the best running back in the NFL last season. It wouldn’t make sense to give Mack more carries at the expense of keeping Taylor on the sidelines but the former has shown he can carry the load. From 2018 to 2019, he amassed 1,999 yards on 442 carries and reached the end zone 17 times.
This year’s running back class is going to be deep, so the Jaguars could sign Mack on the cheap. Last season, he inked a one-year $2 million contract to return to Indy and he could sign a similar deal this offseason. Veteran Carlos Hyde wasn’t productive last season and releasing him would free up nearly $2 million in cap space and the Jags could use the savings to sign Mack.
Keep in mind that James Robinson tore his Achilles late in the 2021season and he may not be ready for the start of the 2022 season. Similarly, Travis Etienne is coming off a Lisfranc injury and while he’s a good bet to return by training camp and become a key cog on Jacksonville’s offense in 2022, the Jaguars need to make sure they have depth in case injuries hit their running back group once again.
The bottom line is that Mack would be a non-expensive option that would add depth to the Jaguars’ running back group and allow the front office to allocate resources to other position groups.