Yesterday, I started up my free agency rankings by giving my list of the 10 best quarterbacks available heading into March 13. Continuing my list of the top 10 NFL free agents by position, here is my list of the 10 best running backs hitting the open market.
10. Latavius Murray
- 2018 team: Minnesota Vikings
- 2018 season stats: 578 yards, 6 TDs, 16 games (six starts)
Coming into 2013 as a sixth-round pick for the Oakland Raiders, Latavius Murray had a nice run in the Bay Area which included a Pro Bowl appearance in 2015. He signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017, giving the team a nice one-two punch with Dalvin Cook in the backfield.
Cook tore his ACL at the beginning of the 2017 season which allowed Murray to be a full-time starter, rushing for 842 yards and eight touchdowns. His production went down a bit this season with Cook being healthy for the majority of the season. He showed flashes in 2018 that he could be a nice addition to any backfield, which included rushing for a career-high 155 yards in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals.
9. Adrian Peterson
- 2018 team: Washington Redskins
- 2018 season stats: 1,042 yards, 7 TDs, 16 games (16 starts)
After struggling for the past few seasons, Adrian Peterson had a great 2018 with the Washington Redskins. Injuries to the Redskins backfield in the preseason led to the Peterson signing and had a successful tenure in Washington.
There is no question that Peterson is one of the best running backs in NFL history but he will be 34 heading into his 13th season. He will look to join a playoff ready team in hopes to finally win his first Super Bowl trophy.
Can he still replicate a 1,000 season at his age? Maybe not. But then again, most of us thought that he would be done playing this past season and look how that turned out.
8. Mike Davis
- 2018 team: Seattle Seahawks
- 2018 season stats: 514 yards, 4 TDs, 15 games (two starts)
Mike Davis was a former fourth-round pick for the San Francisco 49ers in 2015 but was never able to replicate his success in college and was cut after two seasons.
He joined the Seattle Seahawks in 2017 and had a nice 2018 season as a change of pace back to Chris Carson. With Seattle using their first-round pick last year on running back Rashaad Penny, I would not be surprised if they let him walk in free agency.
7. T.J. Yeldon
- 2018 team: Jacksonville Jaguars
- 2018 season stats: 401 yards, 1 TD, 12 games (one start)
T.J. Yeldon was drafted in the second round and looked to be the running back of the future in Jacksonville. He had a solid rookie season rushing for 740 yards. His production fell off a bit after the Jaguars drafted Leonard Fournette and he was used as more of a third-down pass catching back.
He could be a good pickup to a team that needs an extra running back that can catch passes out of the backfield.
6. Spencer Ware
- 2018 team: Kansas City Chiefs
- 2018 season stats: 246 yards, 2 TDs, 13 games (two starts)
Spencer Ware has had an up and down career in the NFL. He was a sixth-round pick for the Seahawks but only played two games as a rookie before being released. He joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015 and became the starter when Jamaal Charles went down with an injury, rushing for 921 yards in 2016. He was looked at to be the starter in 2017 but a preseason PCL tear ended his season before it began.
With Kareem Hunt being released in the middle of the 2018 season, Ware started once again but played sparingly with Damien Williams playing well towards the end of the season. He will get some interest in free agency and could join a team needing a backup running back.
5. C.J. Anderson
- 2018 team: Carolina Panthers/Los Angeles Rams
- 2018 season stats: 104 yards, 9 games (one start) (CAR), 299 yards, 4 TDs, two games (two starts) (LAR)
The former undrafted running back had a successful run with the Denver Broncos and joined the Carolina Panthers in 2018. Anderson did not do much there and was released by the team. He joined the Oakland Raiders for one week but was released and signed with the Los Angeles Rams.
Filling in for an injured Todd Gurley, Anderson did well in the final two games of the 2018 regular season and was a nice change of pace back for the Rams. I could see Los Angeles bringing him back as he was a nice compliment to the previously mentioned Gurley.
4. Tevin Coleman
- 2018 team: Atlanta Falcons
- 2018 season stats: 800 yards, 4 TDs, 16 games (14 starts)
Tevin Coleman had a lot more playing time than usual this year with regular starter Devonta Freeman and became a full-time starter for the first time in his career.
Looked at a more of a pass-catching running back, Coleman showed that he could be a regular starter to whatever team he decides to sign with. Coleman could be a sneaky pickup this offseason.
3. Jay Ajayi
- 2018 team: Philadelphia Eagles
- 2018 season stats: 184 yards, 3 TDS, four games (three starts)
Last season, Jay Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles to fill the void of a legit running back for the offense. He helped them win Super Bowl 52 and had a lot of potential heading into the 2018 season. He struggled a bit early and unfortunately tore his ACL in Week 5, ending his season.
Despite the injury, Ajayi will still get a lot of interest in free agency. At 25 years old, he is still in the prime of his career and still has plenty of seasons left.
2. Mark Ingram
- 2018 team: New Orleans Saints
- 2018 season stats: 645 yards, 6 TDs, 12 games (six starts)
The longtime New Orlean Saint will be a free agent for the first time in his NFL career. During his eight-year career, Ingram has 6,007 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns. He and Alvin Kamara proved to be a dynamic duo for the Saints.
At 29, Ingram still has a few seasons left, giving the history that most running backs do not produce as much once they hit their 30s. He’ll look to join on a playoff ready team, maybe even re-joining the Saints in an already established offense.
1. Le’Veon Bell
- 2018 team: Pittsburgh Steelers
- 2018 season stats: None
He may not have played a single-snap in 2018 but Le’Veon Bell is the best running back option in free agency. He was an electric running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers not only as a rusher, but receiving the ball out of the backfield. The Steelers used the franchise tag on Bell at the start of the 2018 season but refused to sign as he wanted a more guaranteed contract. Now in 2019, Bell will look for a fresh start elsewhere.
Bell will get a lot of attention in free agency and could join a team with a lot of cap space to sign the star running back. No matter where he goes, Le’Veon will be a great addition in the running game as well as the passing game.