Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

2018 Free Agency Preview: Running Backs


With free agency set to begin later this month, previews the 2018 NFL free agent class position-by-position. Today's focus is on the running backs.

Arguably the most difficult position to assess for the Redskins front office is at running back, which took the brunt of the injury load last season.

It began with an ACL injury to Keith Marshall in training camp and continued throughout the year, putting Rob Kelley on Injured Reserve after he played in just seven games and did the same with Chris Thompson, who had a stellar campaign until breaking his leg against the Saints in late November.

Their replacements didn't fare much better, as both Byron Marshall and LeShun Daniels suffered their season-ending injuries in the final month of regular season play.

Thus, the coaching staff and scouting department had their work cut out for them in properly assessing its large stable of running backs. With Samaje Perine and Kapri Bibbs also in the mix, and none departing as free agents, head coach Jay Gruden has plenty of options and room for improvement.

"We have two or three backs that can be your third-down type guy with Kapri, Byron, and obviously Chris," Gruden said. "You know, I think for a second-down banger, we have Samaje and Rob Kelley. But maybe another one in here to compete in that role, first and second down, maybe an all-purpose guy would be nice – a little return. I don't know. There's a lot of options, but whoever it is, we intend on giving them a great opportunity to compete for a lot of carries."

Who that all-purpose player might be could come in the NFL Draft, which boasts a nice crop of talented a versatile backfield options, or through free agency.

If the Redskins decide to pursue someone using the latter option, here's who will be available for them, according to

  • Dion Lewis
  • Carlos Hyde
  • Jerick McKinnon
  • Isaiah Crowell
  • Rex Burkhead
  • DeMarco Murray
  • Frank Gore
  • Darren Sproles
  • Alfred Morris
  • LeGarrette Blount
  • Charles Sims  
  • Jeremy Hill
  • Damien Williams
  • Orleans Darkwa
  • Terrance West
  • Jonathan Stewart
  • Alfred Blue
  • Shane Vereen
  • Andre Ellington
  • Doug Martin
  • Jamaal Charles
  • Kerwynn Williams
  • Travaris Cadet
  • Benny Cunningham
  • Branden Oliver
  • Eddie Lacy
  • Cedric Peerman
  • Kenjon Barner
  • Taiwan Jones
  • Jordan Todman
  • Lance Dunbar
  • Christine Michael
  • Mike James
  • Stevan Ridley

There are some notable names on this list – many of whom were considered some of the best backs in the NFL just a few years ago. Many still have some life in their legs, and that includes Isaiah Crowell, finishing up his rookie deal with the Browns after rushing for 853 yards and two touchdowns with a 4.1 yards per carry average.

He complemented that with 28 receptions for 182 yards and fumbled just once, starting in all 16 games this past season.

Another intriguing name for the Redskins might be Jerrick McKinnon. The Vikings all-purpose back had the best season of his four-year career, compiling 570 rushing yards for three touchdowns and 421 receiving yards with two touchdowns.

What's potentially enticing for the Redskins is his return ability. He took 12 kickoffs for a combined 312 yards, averaging 26 yards per return with a long of 39.

In terms of adding a veteran with a solid resume, the Redskins could pursue DeMarco Murray, recently released by the Titans after two seasons in which he rushed for just less than 2,000 yards combined. Murray's production decreased, sharing time with Derrick Henry, as the former Cowboy and Eagle rushed for 659 yards and caught 39 passes for 266 yards.

Position-By-Position Outlooks:

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content