NFL free agency begins next week and there’s plenty of talent at every level in almost every position. The running back market may look grim at first glance, but if you dig deeper, teams would be smart to bid on the services of some of these free agents. The fun begins next week as general managers begin the process of building their squads for the 2022-23 season.
NFL Free Agency: Top Five Running Backs
5. Cordarelle Patterson
the Atlanta Falcons have a big decision to make Cordarelle Patterson next week. The nine-year veteran is coming off the best season of his career by far. Patterson has been a dueling threat whether he’s a running back, receiver or kick returner. He had 618 yards rushing, 548 through the air and 434 kick returns on just 18 attempts. Patterson also amassed more than 1,000 kick return yards in 2020 and had at least one touchdown return in six of his nine years. All of this versatility has earned him the NFL PFWA Most Improved Player of 2021. His efforts should also get him a lot of interest in the market.
4. Chase Edmonds
After completing his rookie contract with the Arizona Cardinals, Chase Edmonds is set to hit NFL free agency after showing a glimpse of what he’s capable of last season. Although he only played 12 games due to injury, he showed promise as he approached the open market. Edmonds rushed for 592 yards and two touchdowns while having 5.1 yards per attempt, ninth-most in the league. He also proved he could be a threat in the air as he had 311 receiving yards. The only issue teams will focus on is his durability as he has had a few different injuries throughout the season but when healthy he can help a team in a big way.
Like Kyler Murray’s situation seems to have calmed down, the Arizona Cardinals have another problem to deal with as their two best running backs are about to head to free agency. One of them is James Connor, who split his time with Edmonds and even returned to the starting role due to injury. Connor has missed a few games himself, but has been relatively healthy all season.
In 15 games, the most he played in a single season, he racked up 752 rushing yards with a total of 18 touchdowns (15 rushing). Connor can also catch the ball out of the backfield and that’s what makes him dangerous when healthy. He would love to return to Arizona next season and expects to get a multi-year contract wherever he goes.
2. Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon hits the free agent market with real interest in returning to the Denver Broncos next season. The last two years have been very encouraging as he has had back-to-back 900-yard seasons. He also had eight or more touchdowns every year except his rookie season. Gordon also racked up more than 200 yards through the air in 2021 to go along with two touchdowns.
While the Broncos liked what they saw, Javonte Williams had a great rookie season in the backfield and looks like the future for this team. With Denver’s urgency to not pay to attend, it will be interesting to see what happens next week.
1. Leonard Fournette
There are a lot of question marks heading into the 2022-23 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The most important is the quarterback position with Tom Brady announcing his retirement. After that, running back position becomes the biggest question with Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones hitting NFL free agency.
As for Fournette, he had a bad season during his contract year. He had 812 rushing yards with eight touchdowns, but only played in 14 games. The five-year-old running back is capable of being a wide receiver out of the backfield and has improved since being with Brady. Fournette had 454 yards through the air with both touchdowns. He was a big part of Tampa’s Super Bowl run in 2020 and is now hitting free agency with an attractive market for him.
Other notable free agent running backs