While the Ravens may not have an immediate glaring need at running back, it certainly feels like a position that’s going to be addressed to some degree this offseason. Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon, Alex Collins, Buck Allen, and Ty Montgomery all showed flashes last season. But the life of a ball carrier is physically demanding and for that reason you can never have too many.
It’s also a reality that’s been spoken to; John Harbaugh confirmed as such at his Wednesday combine presser:
John Harbaugh said Gus Edwards is the team's No. 1 RB right now, but that they're going to add competition.— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) February 27, 2019
With that in mind, who are some potential options the Ravens could realistically bring in to challenge Edwards this offseason? A lot of scuttlebutt is circulating about Le’Veon Bell, but rather than continue to wonder whether the front office would even be able to make that happen, let’s take a look at some of the more believable signings that could take place in a few weeks:
T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars
This former 2nd rounder out of Alabama has quietly had a productive career in a crowded Jags backfield over the last several years. Over his career he’s averaged 36.7 rush yards per game, and another 25.5 through the air.
That speaks to his versatility as a third down back, something NFL.com mentions in their breakdown of him as the #89 available free agent this offseason:
Yeldon quietly has gained nearly 3,200 yards from scrimmage in his four seasons, barely less than fellow free agent Tevin Coleman. He’s a solid third-down back in a league that values that skill set more than ever.
The similarity to Coleman speaks volumes in the sense that the Falcons free agent is likely to get a bigger payday than Yeldon. With that in mind, Yeldon may be the low level stock worth investing in at this point in time rather than a larger push for someone like Coleman.
Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles
Ajayi has shown some serious promise after being a late round pick in 2015 when he’s been healthy. Theirin lies the issue though.
He suffered a torn ACL in October and already had knee issues going all the way back to his days at Boise State. An ACL tear at that point in the season doesn’t even guarantee his immediate availability for 2019, so he may be a shaky bet this point, but not if you approach it correctly.
Baltimore currently has good depth at the position and if they’re able to retain a decent amount of it, they wouldn’t need Ajayi immediately. If they were to need some more juice mid-way through the season (similar to when Dixon made his return in 2018) Ajayi is a proven veteran who has experience in joining a squad mid season and helping them make a championship run.
At the right cost and with the right plan in place, Ajayi could be the steal of the running back crop in free agency. We’ll see who’s willing to attempt to cash in.
Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins
This is probably a relatively unrealistic option due to age and a redundancy with Edwards, but regardless, Peterson certainly seems to have some more left in the tank. He would likely be one of the cheaper options on the market who actually had a decent season in 2018 (1,042 yards, 7 TDs) and that’s with the revolving door Washington had at QB last year. Jackson taking the pressure off of him could make Peterson even more effective.
While it would be difficult to imagine, it would also be tough to picture Peterson commanding anywhere near top dollar. If used situationally, and with the other young talent around (a-la what they have now, and potentially a draft pick), he could be worth a flyer for 2019.
So who would be your top option of value running back fits from free agency? Any of these guys? Somebody else? Let us know down below:
Who would be your ideal value free agent running back acquisition?
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None of the above