Running the football isn’t as important as it used to be; at least, that’s the general consensus in 2014. And there seems to be some proof to the notion; one look through the teams that made the playoffs last season provides plenty of evidence.
More teams are employing a running-back-by-committee approach than ever before. The day and age of the dominant, every-down back seems to be a thing of the past.
As a result, franchises aren’t investing in running backs like they used to. Finding ball carriers in more obscure places is en vogue. Translation: Cheap is in.
Thus, there are plenty of big-name backs on the free-agent market in 2014. Players who are certainly recognizable to fans are available for the right price. So if a team is in need of a quality running back, they can certainly find one.
Who is available in 2014 to help them? Here’s how the editors of cover32 assess this year’s free agent class of running backs:
10. James Starks
When called upon in Green Bay, Starks has typically answered the bell. But for a team that was constantly looking for a running game prior to drafting Eddie Lacy, it’s a little curious that this soon-to-be 28-year-old back was only able to crack the starting lineup for five games. There’s a consistency issue in there somewhere.
9. Toby Gerhart
Backing up the best running back in the league, even one that has had some injury issues of late, doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities to shine. Thus, Gerhart hasn’t put up gaudy numbers during his first four seasons in the NFL; playing behind Adrian Peterson hasn’t allowed for it. But the former Stanford star can tote the rock (see his 7.9 ypg average in 2013) and he hasn’t been overused.