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2017 Free Agency Outlook: Running Backs


With free agency set to begin in March,'s Stephen Czarda previews the 2017 NFL free agent class position-by-position. Today's focus is on the running backs.

During the 2016 season, the Washington Redskins' elder statesman in the running back room was 26-year-old Chris Thompson.

Despite being in just his third season with Washington, Thompson served the veteran role following the departures of Alfred Morris to the Dallas Cowboys and Pierre Thomas, a late 2015 signing.

Thompson had a career year as the team's third-down back, recording personal bests in rushing attempts (68), rushing yards (356), rushing touchdowns (three), receptions (49) and receiving yards (349) while tying his benchmark for receiving touchdowns with two.

The Florida State product is set to become a restricted free agent, meaning he can negotiate a deal with any NFL team, and if they accept an offer sheet, the Redskins have five days to determine if they want to match what is being offered.

Thompson, of course, was joined by Rob Kelley, Rob Kelley and Mack Brown in the backfield.

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden noted in his 2016 season-concluding press conference last month that Kelley is viewed as the team's lead running back and Jones will continue to compete for playing time, but what if they want another veteran at the position?

Here is a list of the running backs currently scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at 4 p.m. ET March 1, via

  • Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
  • Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals
  • Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
  • Reggie Bush, Buffalo Bills
  • Cedric Peerman, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Rex Burkhead, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys

Check out photos of free agent running back Le'Veon Bell.

Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys * Justin Forsett, Denver Broncos * Joique Bell, Detroit Lions * Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers * James Starks, Green Bay Packers * Christine Michael, Green Bay Packers * Jonathan Grimes, Houston Texans * Jordan Todman, Indianapolis Colts * Robert Turbin, Indianapolis Colts * Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars * Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs * Benny Cunningham, Los Angeles Rams * Chase Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams * Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings * Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots * LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots * Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints * Travaris Cadet, New Orleans Saints * Bobby Rainey, New York Giants * Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders * DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers * Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers * Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers * Dexter McCluster, San Diego Chargers * Ronnie Hillman, San Diego Chargers * Shaun Draughn, San Francisco 49ers * DuJuan Harris, San Francisco 49ers * Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers * Antone Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The name that grabs the most attention out of this group is Le'Veon Bell.

Check out photos of free agent running back Eddie Lacy.

When healthy, the two-time Pro Bowler is arguably the best running back in the NFL right now. His patient running style is also something football fans alike marvel over.

In four seasons with the Steelers, Bell has rushed for more than 4,000 yards with 26 touchdowns. He's also recorded 227 receptions for 2,005 yards and five touchdowns.

Eddie Lacy, meanwhile, could be in search for new surroundings after his 2016 season ended abruptly. While the Alabama product has dealt with weight issues in recent years, he still has two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt along with 101 receptions for 900 yards.

As for Latavius Murray, the 27-year-old has tallied 543 rushing attempts for 2,278 yards and 20 touchdowns.

While his playing time slightly dipped in 2016, Murray still rushed for a career-high 12 touchdowns.

LeGarrette Blount is coming off a 1,000-yard season – his first since his rookie year in 2010 – for the New England Patriots. The Oregon product had six rushing touchdowns in the final five regular season games.

The only player on this list to record a 2,000-yard season in his career is none other than Chris Johnson.

While "CJ2K" isn't the same player he once was when he was with the Tennessee Titans early in his career, the East Carolina product can still be a homerun threat out of the backfield.

2017 Free Agency Outlooks:

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