Today we are going to take a look at some of the most recognized running backs in the NFL who are available in the 2010 free agent market. Let’s jump right into it.
1 Ahman Green – Ahman was first drafted by the Seahawks in 1998. He spent his two years at Seattle backing up Ricky Watters so he saw limited playing time. The time he did spend on the field was productive and he showed real potential. In 2000 he was traded to Green Bay where he stayed 6 years. Starting in 2001 he was selected to the Pro Bowl for 4 consecutive years. Those same four years saw the Packers catapulting to the post season as well. Ahman had major injuries (knee and thigh) that kept him out of most of 2005. In 2006 he bounced back with a 1,000+ yard rushing season. After the 2006 season his numbers have vastly diminished. Career stats are 9,205 yards rushing and 2,882 receiving. Although an extraordinary running back, he has been prone to fumbling the ball.
2 Brian Westbrook – Brian is a great running who was drafted by the Eagles in 2002. He has been selected to 2 Pro Bowls (2004 and 2007) and 1-time First-Team All-Pro (also occurring in 2007). In 2008 Brian struggled with injuries, but still put up some pretty good numbers (936 rushing and 402 receiving). He saw limited playing time in 2009 due to several concussions. He has accumulated 5,995 yards rushing and 3,790 yards receiving in his career. To date, the Eagles are the only NFL team he has played for.
3 Jamal Lewis – Jamal was first drafted by the Ravens in 2000. He wasted little time and in his first year he rushed for 1,364 yards and nearly 300 yards receiving. For the 6 years he played with the Ravens he averaged 1,300 rushing yards per year. His best year was in 2003 when he ran for over 2000 yards, was selected to the Pro Bowl, and made 1-time First-Team All-Pro. Coming off a solid 2006 he was traded to the Browns in 2007. The Browns had just come off 4 losing seasons. Jamal’s contribution helped them realize a 10-6 record in 2007. Jamal accumulated 1,552 yards from scrimmage that year, but has been far less productive in the last 2. His career stats are 10,607 yards rushing and 1,879 receiving. It is likely that Jamal will announce retirement before the start of the 2010 season.
4 LaDainian Tomlinson – LT was drafted in 2000 by the Chargers. He is a phenomenal athlete and human being. He is 4th all time in touchdowns scored (behind Marcus Allen, Terrell Owens, Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice). His list of records, achievements and awards is longer than my left leg. Relative to the free agent discussion, he has suffered with some injuries over the years and his productivity the last few has declined. Did I mention that he is a 5-time Pro Bowler & 3-time First-Team All-Pro?
5 Willie Parker – Parker was an undrafted free agent who was picked up by the Steelers in 2004. He had a few great players ahead of him and really didn’t get rolling until the next year when he rushed for 1,202 yards and another 218 receiving. He made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2007 and rushed for 1,494 and 1,316 respectively. At the end of 2007 Parker incurred a broken leg and then a knee injury about 4 games into the 2008 season. In 2009 he started for the first three games, but missed a few games due to a minor injury. Unfortunately for Parker his backup, Rashard Mendenhall, played well and Willie spent the rest of the season sitting on the bench looking at his shoes laces.
All these guys are pretty much in the same boat. All amazing running backs in their prime and all of them with reduced productivity over the last few years. The question is… does any one have anything left in the tank? Are there a few more years of greatness to be seen? My opinion?
1 Ahman Green – DONE
2 Brian Westbrook – A FEW MORE YEARS LEFT
3 Jamal Lewis – DONE
4 LaDainian Tomlinson – (definitely on the decline, but) A FEW MORE YEARS LEFT
5 Willie Parker – A FEW MORE YEARS LEFT