NFL Free Agency: A Look at the Top RBs on the Market
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
It’s easy to see that Aaron Jones is the best available option at the running back position in the upcoming 2021 free agent class. The market has not been kind to the position in recent years, but it appears Jones will be in line to receive the highest contract of the class.
The Green Bay Packers had the opportunity to place the franchise tag on Jones, but have decided to test their luck and allow him to set eyes on the open market.
Jones can provide a spark for any offense with his slashing running technique, breakaway speed and above-average hands. Look for him to sign with a team in need of an offensive identity and veteran leadership.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
When looking for a running back with raw power, look no further than Chris Carson.
Carson can wear down a defense by punishing opposing linebackers and defensive backs with his downhill running attack, providing plenty of yards after contact (YAC). He also has improved drastically his pass-catching abilities, setting a career-high in catches last season with 37.
One of the biggest concerns related to Carson is his susceptibility to injury. Since arriving in the NFL in 2017, he has never played a full season, including four games missed in 2020.
It’s possible that Seattle will allow Rashard Penny to finally get his shot at the starting role, but it makes a lot of sense to see Carson return to the Hawks.
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks
Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals
When Kenyan Drake finished his remaining eight games of the 2019 season with the Arizona Cardinals, it was believed he would be a top-5 running back entering 2020. After all, he averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns.
At the end of 2020, the general consensus was that Drake vastly unperformed to expectations. He only had two 100-yard games for the entirety of the season and averaged four yards per carry. Another negative takeaway for Drake is he collected a measly 25 catches in a pass-heavy attack in Arizona, which could hurt his overall value.
The Cardinals seem to have a lot of faith in Chase Edmonds, meaning Drake could be on his way out.
Prediction: NY Jets
James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers appeared to have their next franchise running back in James Conner after he was given an opportunity with Le’Veon Bell sitting out for the entirety of the 2018 season. Since, Conner has experienced a roller coaster career in Pittsburgh filled with nagging injuries and inconsistencies at the position.
Over the last few seasons, the Steelers are showing signs of looking to the future by drafting Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland Jr. in back-to-back seasons. Conner has proven at the young age of 25 that he is inept at handling full-time duties as a bell-cow running back for the Steelers, or any franchise moving forward.
He may be underwhelming in areas such as speed and athleticism, but could provide usefulness in a committee role.
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens
Austin Boley is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism