Future Free Agents: Running Backs

After signing LaMont Jordan to a large contract prior to the 2005 season, the Oakland Raiders wouldn't seem to be in the market for a running back. But they could make a splash, and with nearly 30 available running backs destined for free agency the Raiders may look to add a one-two combo that has been so successful around the NFL.

LaMont Jordan signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract through 2009 on March 3, 2005. The Raiders firmly believed they found their man. To date, the only thing for certain is Jordan seems irked by everything around him and hasn't made it through a full season healthy since signing.

Jordan lasted just nine games this season, carrying the rock 114 times for 434 yards, a 3.8 average. It is the same rushing average he had the year before over 14 games. In his first four seasons with the New York Jets, Jordan averaged a healthy 4.87 yards per carry.

Justin Fargas did little to help his cause, averaging 3.7 yards per carry in extended duty.

It will be near impossible to move on without Jordan, but that doesn't preclude Oakland from dipping into the free agency market to get a complimentary back that can take the load off Jordan and perhaps start when the yearly injury bug hits.

The free-agent class isn't pretty, but here are some of the top options that will be available if unsigned by March 2.

Chris Brown, Tennessee Titans – After a 1,067-yard rushing season in 2004, Chris Brown appeared to be on his way to more 1,000-yard seasons. But after a 851-yard performance in 2005, his numbers declined to 156 yards in 2006 after starting three games and playing in two more. The Titans aren't expected to re-sign him.

Correll Buckhalter, Philadelphia Eagles – Buckhalter has been in the league six seasons, but he's only played in three of those years, as injuries have wracked and wrecked his once-promising career. He had 586 yards rushing as a rookie in 2001 and 542 in 2003. He returned in 2006 after two seasons on the sidelines for 345 yards rushing.

Ahman Green, Green Bay Packers – Green proved that he can still be a 1,000-yard rusher in 2006 – his sixth season doing it in the last seven years – but after 1,871 carries over the course of his nine-year career, the question is how much tread he has left on the tire. Although he missed 11 games in 2005, he has proven to be durable and a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield as well.

Dominic Rhodes, Indianapolis Colts – Rhodes rejuvenated his career in Indianapolis with the departure of Edgerrin James, but the Colts have a young hotshot in Joseph Addai who got more work than Rhodes and became a starter in the playoffs. Addai rushed 266 times for 1,081 yards in the regular season, while Rhodes started every game and rushed 187 times for 641 yards. Rhodes probably isn't a workhorse back, but he could pass the test in a two-back system like Indianapolis employed in 2006. His future employer is far from certain.

Michael Turner, San Diego Chargers – Despite not being a starter and being a restricted free agent, there are expected to be plenty of rumors in the next month regarding Turner. He is thought to be of one of the league hottest backups who only needs to get out from under the shadow of LaDainian Tomlinson in order to succeed as a starter. The Chargers will certainly tender him a high offer, but they might hope to garner at least one first-round draft pick or more, or trade him after signing him. In limited action in his first three years in the league, Turner has averaged 5.2 yards or better each season. Scout.com first reported the New York Jets' interest in acquiring Turner, and there are likely more teams to follow.


Dee Brown, Kansas City Chiefs
Aveion Cason, Detroit Lions
Najeh Davenport, Pittsburgh Steelers
Stephen Davis, St. Louis Rams
Ron Dayne, Houston Texans
T.J. Duckett, Washington Redskins (not expected back)
Joe Echema, Oakland Raiders (restricted, formerly Adimchinobe Echemandu)
Tony Fisher, St. Louis Rams
Arlen Harris, Detroit Lions
Maurice Hicks, San Francisco 49ers (restricted)
Vonta Leach, Houston Texans (restricted)
Reno Mahe, Philadelphia Eagles
Travis Minor, Miami Dolphins
Josh Parry, Seattle Seahawks (restricted)
Artose Pinner, Minnesota Vikings (restricted)
Dominic Rhodes, Indianapolis Colts
Jamal Robertson, Atlanta Falcons
B.J. Sams, Baltimore Ravens (restricted)
Josh Scobey, Seattle Seahawks
Marcel Shipp, Arizona Cardinals
Musa Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Anthony Thomas, Buffalo Bills
LaBrandon Toefield, Jacksonville Jaguars
Derrick Ward, New York Giants (restricted)
Kenny Watson, Cincinnati Bengals
Shaud Williams, Buffalo Bills (restricted)

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