Signing a player through the free agency process is a crap-shoot, a definite hit and miss process. For every one player signed to a team that is extremely successful, there are two players signed that never achieve success on the same level or better than with their prior team.
This is free agency.
With free agency right around the corner, we will conduct a quick overview with thoughts on the top three players at each position.
First on the agenda are the running backs.
1. Stacey Mack is a four-year veteran from Temple that does not get the respect and notoriety he deserves. Basically a backup and short-yardage specialist in Jacksonville, Mack has rushed for nine touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. Getting the opportunity to start in the 2001 season when Fred Taylor was injured, Mack rushed for 877 yards for a 4.1 yards-per-carry average. Mack has shown the ability to move the chains with his powerful running style behind a 235-pound frame. Not the fleetest of foot, Mack has shown the natural instincts necessary to be a better-than-average running back in the league and he has a tremendous desire and great work ethic. Best fits for Mack would be in Houston or New England, where upgrading the running game is a priority.
2. Olandis Gary burst on the scene in 1999 with the Denver Broncos when star running back Terrell Davis went down with a serious knee injury. Rushing for 1,159 yards for the Broncos as a rookie fourth-round draft selection out of Georgia. Suffered a knee injury in the 2000 season that hampered his progress, and then returned in 2001 to backup Mike Anderson and 2002 to backup rookie Clinton Portis. Weighing close to 220 pounds, Gary has the size and speed desired for an NFL back, to go along with good hands coming out of the backfield. Fully recovered from the knee injury, Gary could become a very productive player on a multi-dimensional team. Decent blocker, does not miss assignments and can not be easily overpowered. Best fit would be in Carolina or Dallas.
3. James Allen went from a 1,100 yard rusher in Chicago to running for his life in Houston. Durable and quick, Allen has displayed the ability to gain the tough yards. He blocks well, catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield, and is quick to the hole and shifty. At times is apprehensive, which results in a loss of positive yardage plays from scrimmage. Will not hurt a team on the field or in the locker room. Best fit: any team that seeks a reserve running back for depth purposes or a third-down running back to come out of the backfield.
Wildcard: Stephen Davis is on the outside looking in as a member of the Washington Redskins. Davis will be released by the Redskins in the upcoming two weeks and will have many interested teams on his doorstep. Still a powerful runner with better-than-average speed and hands coming out of the backfield, Davis' exit from Washington is based on his large salary and he does not the fit the scheme of head coach Steve Spurrier. Best fit: look for New England, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Houston to talk to Davis.
Free Agency: Running Backs
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