Free Agency Diary

2016’s NFL Top Free Agent Running Backs


2015 saw somewhat of a return of the running game as a pair of run-first teams represented each conference in the Super Bowl.  Unlike the quarterback class, the free agent running back class has some potentially elite talents that will improve whatever offenses they are on.  Here are the top free agent running backs:

  1. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins- Miller is just 24 years old and his age and lack of wear and tear makes him the best available free agent running back option.  Miller is an explosive, productive back who was underutilized in Miami.  Best fits: Denver, Miami, Jacksonville, Chicago, Green Bay, Arizona, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Houston, Carolina.  
  2. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Doug Martin has been ultra-productive when healthy, and he can fit in just about any scheme.  He finished second in the NFL in rushing in 2015 behind an average offensive line and that should elevate his paycheck higher than the Bucs will go and he will likely get to explore the market. Best fits: Carolina, Denver, Green Bay, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Houston, Chicago, New York Giants. 
  3. Chris Ivory, New York Jets- Chris Ivory is a violent runner who adds a physical element to any offense.  At 27 years old and splitting carries throughout most of his career, he still has plenty of wear and tear left and can be a featured back for any team.  Best fits: New York Jets, New York Giants, Jacksonville, Houston, Chicago, Indianapolis. 
  4. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears- Matt Forte has been one of the most productive backs in the NFL for his entire career, but he’s north of 30 years old and that will limit the amount of interest.  Forte has the hands of a receiver and has been mostly healthy throughout his career. Best fits: New York Giants, Houston, Denver, Indianapolis. 
  5. Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals- After being an afterthought, Johnson caught on with the Arizona Cardinals and had a very productive season before getting injured.  Johnson showed the explosivity that made him a 2,000 yard rusher earlier in his career in Tennessee.  Best fits: Arizona, New York Giants, Houston, Denver, Indianapolis, Jacksonville.
  6. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins- Morris was ultra-productive as a rookie as he ran for over 1,600 yards.  His production has dropped each season and he is best in a zone blocking scheme.  Best fits: Houston, Denver, New York Giants, Indianapolis, Seattle, Tennessee, Carolina. 
  7. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions- Bell is a strong, north-south runner who has had some recent injuries which has limited his production.  He has always been part of a tandem backfield and shouldn’t be counted on to be a primary back. Best fits: New York Giants, Seattle, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Chicago. 
  8. Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings- Asiata is a nice fullback/running back hybrid that can catch the ball out of the backfield and has some wiggle.  He would be a nice member of a tandem backfield.  Best fits: Minnesota, Jacksonville, Chicago, Green Bay. 
  9. Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Rainey has legitimate running and receiving skills and has been miscast for much of his career. He has been productive when given the opportunity and he should be a nice change of pace back for some team. Best fits: Jacksonville, Miami, Minnesota, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Seattle.
  10. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos- Hillman hasn’t quite lived up to his draft hype when he got to Denver, but he’s a useful member of a tandem backfield.  At 24 years old, there’s plenty of optimism for him to succeed in a specific third-down role.  Best fits: Denver, Miami, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Seattle. 

To find the best Free Agent Quarterbacks, click here. 

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.