New York Jets Free Agency Primer (Running Backs)

With approximately $30-40 million in cap space, the New York Jets are pegged to be players when the new league year begins on March 3rd, 2013. Today, we look at free agent running backs. Check out our look at quarterbacks from last week here.

There’s a good chance the New York Jets will enter the 2014 season with Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, and Mike Goodson (Run BMC) as their running backs. However, with Goodson’s future a bit uncertain due to his legal trouble as well as Bilal entering the final year of his contract, it’s possible that the New York Jets look to replace one or both of them now, with either a release of Mike Goodson or trade of Bilal Powell. Here’s who the Jets could target in free agency.

1. Darren McFadden, Raiders

Darren McFadden

2013 Stats: 7 starts, 114 carries, 379 yards. 5 TDs, 3.3 yards per carry, 17 receptions, 108 yards, 6.4 yards per reception

Analysis: McFadden once again battled injuries in 2013, and has now played in 67 out of a possible 96 games in his career. When he’s been healthy, which he was for the most part in 2010 (223 rushes, 1157 yards, a 5.2 yards per carry average), McFadden has been an explosive feature back in this league. He has speed, can catch the ball, and has displayed a willingness to run between the tackles. He has earned his injury prone label, though, so it’s a concern. If healthy, McFadden could be a welcome addition to the Jets backfield depending on the cost.

Likelihood: He will become an unrestricted free agent after earning $7M this season. There is a chance that a team like the Giants or the Dolphins offer him an opportunity to start, whereas he’d be backing up Chris Ivory with the Jets. We’ll put this as a 3.

2. Maurice Jones Drew, Jaguars

MJD

2013 Stats: 234 carries, 803 yards. 5 TDs, 3.4 yards per carry, 43 receptions, 314 yards, 7.3 yards per reception, 1117 total yards from scrimmage

Analysis: MJD bounced back from an injury plagued 2012 season to play 15 out of 16 games in 2013. He had arguably his worst season as a professional, with career lows in yards and yards per carry (not counting his injury shortened year). His best game came against Houston, where he rushed for 103 yards and a 7.3 yards per carry average. He’ll be 29 when the season starts, and his days of being a feature back seem to be behind him.

Likelihood: Drew has expressed a desire to return to Jacksonville this offseason, but he’s about to hit free agency for the first time in his career. Drew made $7.6M this past season, and he won’t make nearly as much on the open market. However, if he’s looking for an opportunity to backup an established running back teams like Houston could reach out to the former All-Pro. He’d be the clear backup to Chris Ivory here, but would be a good weapon as a pass catcher as he’s notched at least 40 catches in 6 out of the past 8 seasons. We’ll put this likelihood at a 2.

3. Donald Brown, Colts

Donald Brown

2013 Stats: 102 carries, 537 yards, 6 TDs, 5.3 yards per carry, 27 receptions, 214 yards, 7.9 yards per reception, 2 TDs, 8 total TDs

Analysis: The former first round pick, despite the arrival of Trent Richardson midseason, put together arguably his best season in 2013. Over 700 total yards and 8 total touchdowns in spot duty is nothing to scoff at as Brown supplanted Trent Richardson towards the end of the year. Brown, also, displayed good hands as he notched 27 receptions. Brown, also, only fumbled twice in 634 career touches touches. Brown is, also, only 26 and has 551 lifetime carries. There are injury concerns as Brown has played 16 games just twice out of his first 5 seasons.

Likelihood: Brown will become an unrestricted free agent and is one of the more intriguing options out there should the Jets want to upgrade the running back position. Brown would be a good compliment to Chris Ivory, due to his speed and sure hands, as well as his ability to blitz pick up. With Trent Richardson faltering like he has in Indianapolis, it’s possible the Colts do not let Brown walk. If they do, I’d put the likelihood of Brown replacing Goodson or Powell at a 6. It may be worth placing a free bet at various bookmakers websites on how you think Brown will do next season.

4. Ben Tate, Texans

Ben Tate

2013 Stats: 181 rushes, 771 yards, 4 TDs, 4.3 yards per carry, 34 receptions, 140 yards 4 total touchdowns, 5 fumbles

Analysis: Ben Tate took over for Arian Foster when Arian Foster went down and posted his best season as a pro. Tate’s 4 TDs tied a career high, and and his 34 receptions were a career high. Tate did deal with injuries too, and he’s yet to play in a full 16 games. He, also, has a bit of a fumbling problem as he’s fumbled 10 times in his career.

Likelihood: Tate will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and may be looking to step out of the shadow of Arian Foster. Because of this, i’d put the likelihood of Tate joining the Jets at a 1. However, Tate has back up and starting experience, and would be a good change of pace back for Ivory.

5. LeGarrette Blount, Patriots

2013 Stats: 153 carries, 772 yards, 7 TDs, 5.0 yards per carry, 2 receptions, 38 yards, 3 fumbles

Analysis: Blount took over for Steven Ridley towards the end of the season, and he rewarded the Patriots with his two best games of the season against Buffalo and Indianapolis. Blount averaged 5.0 yards per carry and found the endzone 7 times. Blount did fumble 3 times, and this brought his total up to 12 career fumbles.

Likelihood: The Patriots invested high draft choices in Ridley and Shane Vereen, so it’s possible that Blount is the odd man out in New England. He’s very similar to Chris Ivory, in terms of power, but Ivory is actually the faster of the two running backs. He struggles with catching the ball, as he’s only registered double digit in catches once in his career. Because of this, he’s not the best fit as Ivory’s backup and in Marty’s offense, so i’d put this likelihood at a 1.

Author: Dalbin Osorio

Dalbin Osorio is a Case Planner for Graham-Windham, New York's oldest child welfare agency. He is, also, a student at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Dalbin graduated from Monroe College with a degree in Business Administration. A 3 sport utility man in high school (think a mix of Jerome WIlliams, Brad Smith, and Jayson Nix), he joined TOJ in 2013.