With the 2020-21 NFL season in the closing stages, select franchises are looking towards the 2021 free agency class in hopes of filling voids of their respective rosters. With that, we will continue our series with the top available running backs:
Honorable Mentions: Mike Davis, Leonard Fournette, Phillip Lindsay, James White
Le’Veon Bell, Kansas City Chiefs
After being released by the New York Jets in October, Bell ultimately signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in hopes of securing his first Super Bowl. Having only appeared in 12 games, Bell finished the year with 328 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Still, we have to admit there will be a market for him in free agency. Bell has been named to three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams in seven NFL seasons. It will likely be a “prove it” contract where Bell will not be viewed as a three-down back.
Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons
After his respective release from the Los Angeles Rams, Todd Gurley found himself with an expanding role with the Atlanta Falcons. Despite regression in rushing yards this season, Gurley managed to find the end zone on nine occasions. Through the month of October, he was leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns. There was previous concern regarding the health status of the 26-year old, but he appeared in 15 games this season. He will be a valuable asset to a team seeking assistance in their backfield.
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
On the final year of his contract, Carson has forced opposing defenses to respect Seattle’s run game. His career-high 4.9 yards per carry has been met with a total of 681 rushing yards and nine total touchdowns. He missed time due to injury, but will likely remain with the Seahawks past the 2020 season. In 44 career games, Carson has totaled 28 touchdowns.
Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals
Signing his one-year, $8.5 transition tag with the Arizona Cardinals in March, Drake has not expressed concern over an extension. Playing on the tag has worked out, as he will likely be owed a lucrative contract after compiling 955 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns; 10th and 9th in the NFL respectively. For a free agent suitor seeking a three-down back, Drake could fit in nicely.
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
Under the final year of his contract, Aaron Jones is projected to be the top available running back once free agency begins. In 2019, Jones led all running backs with 16 rushing touchdowns. That total was followed up by nine touchdowns this past season to go with 1,104 rushing yards. His 5.5 yards per carry tied a career-high, so it’s likely he will demand top dollar in free agency.