When free agency opens March 9, the Redskins will have some holes to fill on both side of the ball. In the coming days, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will examine the expected field of free agents, position-by-position, and evaluate who might be a fit in Washington. Today, we’re looking at running backs.
Current situation: Last month, Redskins President Bruce Allen indicated that the team was not actively seeking to re-sign Alfred Morris, whose numbers declined for a third straight season. Meantime, Matt Jones, despite an inconsistent rookie season that included injury and ball security issues, appears poised to take on a bigger role in 2016. “I feel really comfortable about him going into the season fighting for the [No. 1] job for sure,” GM Scot McCloughan said at the scouting combine. Who would Jones battle for the top spot? Well, glad you asked. Because that player probably isn’t on the roster right now. Be he could be available next week, when four of the top 13 rushers in 2015 hit the open market.
Best available: Doug Martin (27 years old Buccaneers) deserves the top spot assuming he does not re-sign with Tampa in the coming days, but there’s no real consensus here. Matt Forte and Arian Foster, who reportedly was informed Thursday that he’ll be released by the Texans, also deserve consideration. As for Martin, when he’s healthy, he’s a legit No. 1. His 1,402 yards last season were second only to Adrian Peterson’s 1,485, while his 4.9 yards per carry was tied for fifth. Martin, like Jones, lost four fumbles. He also enjoyed a huge afternoon against at FedEx Field last October, gaining 136 yards on the ground and 35 through the air in a wild 31-30 Redskins’ victory.
Three more options: Forte (30, Bears) would be the high end/high mileage choice, having averaged 254 carries, 1,075 rushing yards and 514 yards receiving over the past eight seasons. He missed three games last year with a knee injury, but he’s still got something left in the tank. The question is how much? Chris Ivory (27, Jets) rushed for a career-best 1,070 yards and 7 touchdowns last season. A bruising runner, Ivory piled up 146 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving against the Redskins in Week 6. Lamar Miller (24, Dolphins) rushed for 872 yards and eight touchdowns to go along with 397 yards receiving and a pair of scores last season. The youngest of the bunch, Miller averaged only 12 carries a game last season and wants a bigger role wherever he ends up.
Bottom line: The market figures to be flooded with affordable veteran running backs seeking employment, which should work in Washington’s favor. If, of course, free agency is route they chose to take.