League-wide free agency begins March 13th. The Browns have stated all along they prefer to build the team through the draft, but will take a look at the players available in free agency. Previously we looked at the receivers available. Then a glance at the linebackers. Next, we stared longingly at offensive tackles before finishing last week with quarterbacks. We started this week by looking at defensive ends, and then moved on to safeties. Today we go back to the offensive side of the ball with running backs.
The Browns were 28th in rushing yards last season, and dead last in rushing touchdowns with 4. There is no sense in even bringing up the drama and injuries that plagued the team. It appears the front office is not in agreement with what to do with free agent Peyton Hillis, and we’re not even sure if Hillis really wants to sign another deal in Cleveland. What we do know is that the Browns will have Chris Ogbonnaya and Monterio Hardesty back (assuming they want both) as well as Brandon Jackson, who missed the entire season. It seems a certainty that if the Browns don’t sign Hillis, they will target a back in the draft. Or, could one of these free agents fill the void?
LaRod Stephens-Howling (ARZ) 24, 295 yds, 4.1 per – Restricted
Chester Taylor (ARZ) 32, 4,740 yds, 4.1 per
Antone Smith (ATL) 26, -3 yds, -3.0 per – Exclusive Rights
Jason Snelling (ATL) 28, 1,193 yds, 4.0 per
Tashard Choice (BUF) 27, 1,216 yds, 4.4 per
Kahlil Bell (CHI) 25, 557 yds, 4.7 per – Restricted
Matt Forte (CHI) 26, 4,233 yds, 4.2 per
Cedric Benson (CIN) 29, 5,769 yds, 3.8 per
Chris Pressley (CIN) 25, no carries – Restricted
Peyton Hillis (CLE) 26, 2,161 yds, 4.2 per
Sammy Morris (DAL) 34, 3.053 yds, 4.1 per
Lance Ball (DEN) 26, 643 yds, 4.3 per – Exclusive Rights
LenDale White (DEN) 27, 2,349 yds, 3.7 per
Maurice Morris (DET) 32, 3,648 yds, 4.2 per
Kevin Smith (DET) 25, 2,212 yds, 3.9 per
Ryan Grant (GB) 29, 4,016 yds, 4.3 per
Derrick Ward (HOU) 31, 2,628 yds, 4.8 per
Jackie Battle (KC) 28, 597 yds, 3.8 per
Thomas Jones (KC) 33, 10,591 yds, 4.0 per
Le’Ron McClain (KC) 27, 1,236 yds, 3.8 per
Lex Hilliard (MIA) 27, 130 yds, 3.3 per- Restricted
Steve Slaton (MIA) 26, 1,896 yds, 4.3 per
Lorenzo Booker (MIN) 27, 230 yds, 3.8 per – Restricted
Kevin Faulk (NE) 35, 3,607 yds, 4.2 per
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE) 26, 2,064 yds, 4.0 per
LaDainian Tomlinson (NYJ) 32, 13,684 yds, 4.3 per
Michael Bush (OAK) 27, 2,642 yds, 4.2 per
Rock Cartwright (OAK) 32, 956 yds, 4.2 per
Ronnie Brown (PHI) 30, 4,951 yds, 4.2 per
Mewelde Moore (PIT) 29, 2,247 yds, 4.5 per
Isaac Redman (PIT) 27, 726 yds, 4.5 per – Exclusive Rights
Jacob Hester (SD) 26, 319 yds, 3.4 per
Mike Tolbert (SD) 26, 1,410 yds, 4.1 per
Justin Forsett (SEA) 26, 1,287 yds, 4.6 per
Marshawn Lynch (SEA) 25, 4,542 yds, 4.0 per
Brit Miller (STL) 25, 14 yds, 2.8 per – Restricted
Jerious Norwood (STL) 28, 2,056 yds, 5.2 per
Cadillac Williams (STL) 29, 4,038 yds, 3.8 per
LeGarrette Blount (TB) 25, 1,788 yds, 4.6 per- Exclusive Rights
Earnest Graham (TB) 32, 2,047 yds, 4.3 per
Tim Hightower (WAS) 25, 2,054 yds, 3.9 per
The player’s age is listed after their current team, with career yards and yards per carry following.
The gem of this list is Foster, but he is also restricted, and there is no situation I could foresee in which he ends up playing for someone other than the Texans next season. Ray Rice and Marshawn Lynch are also not likely to end up anywhere but their respective teams.
I think Forte’s situation is intriguing. He tried to get an extended deal from the Bears before the season began, but ended up with nothing, and then got hurt. If the Bears try to use the injury as an excuse not to pay Forte, couldn’t you see him leaving them?
If the Browns were to add a back through free agency, it would likely be of the Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jackson variety. What I mean is a player that hasn’t had too many opportunities in the pro game, but one that the organization thinks can add value.
Is there a player on the list you would like to see the Browns target? Should they try and keep Hillis?