The free agent frenzy that has taken place over the last week has been very interesting to watch. Reggie Bush quickly found a new home in Detroit after being told he would start over Mikel Leshoure. The Falcons cut one old guy to sign another. Shonn Greene dropped from the starter for the New York Jets to a back-up for Chris Johnson. Then Mike Goodsen moved from a back-up to run DMC to the potential starter for the Jets.
Perhaps it is the fact that running backs see a lot of the spotlight, but I enjoy watching the moves of these free agents a lot more than those of Jake Long or Elvis Dumervil. It also has to do with the fact that I am waiting for just the right guy to land in Green Bay. Thus far, that hasn’t happened.With so many backs already off of the market, it makes sense to take a look at see who the best remaining back might be. While I am still a closet fan of Michael Turner, his age and drop off in 2012 do seem to point to a limited market for his services. There are also guys like Beanie Wells out there still looking for work; but he hasn’t shown me anything since his college days.
No, the one back that I’d still love to have playing for my team is Ahmad Bradshaw.
Bradshaw has under 1000 career rushing attempts (about 40% what a guy like Steven Jackson has) and at only 27 (turns 27 on March 19th), he is still young enough to have a good 3-4 years somewhere.
Bradshaw has only two seasons with over 175 carries and they were only 276 in 2010 and 221 in 2012. He has remained fresh as he has always been part of a timeshare. And therein lies the question: Can he be a workhorse back?
I think the last four years has shown that when given the opportunity, indeed he can. Bradshaw has averaged 1180 yards and eight scores per season over those four years. His career ypc is at 4.60, and he has played in at least 14 games in four of the last five years (12 games in 2011). I can take a guy having a one or two game injury per season for that type of production.
Bradshaw shines when given a full load. In 2012 he had six games where he was given 16 or more carries. In those six games he averaged over five yards per carry and had four of his six rushing scores. In the other eight games he played in he averaged only 3.9 ypc and averaged only one score for every four games played. When the Giants were willing to go with Bradshaw early and often, he performed.
This would lead me to believe that he actually will perform better as a three-down back than he has ever done in a RBBC situation.
Teams that are still looking for running back help include the Steelers, Packers, and possibly the Colts and Rams. The Steelers are looking for someone to replace Mendenhall and the Rams need someone to replace S-Jax. Both teams have viable options (Redman and Dwyer for Pitt and Richardson for St. Louis), but could use a true number one back. The Packers don’t have much to work with, but that has been their style recently. And the Colts could still look to add another back as well.
With Jackson receiving only $4 million a year, Greene getting just over $3 million per season, and Bush getting $4 million per year, it seems the market is not shelling out huge amounts of money for the running back position. So one of those teams might be able to get Bradshaw for a decent price.
Bradshaw will be fighting for a starting role somewhere. It might be this week or it might not be until after the draft; but he will land somewhere and the team that gets him will be happy with the results.