NFL Running Backs Free Agents 2021: Despite the bulk of free agency being wrapped up, there are still some key contributors left on the market, especially the running back position.
The running back free-agent class in the 2021 off-season had an interesting set of talent. The group had a clear standout in Aaron Jones, who signed a 4-year 48M dollar contract with the Green Bay Packers.
However, the group also had multiple Pro Bowlers in Phillip Lindsay, James Conner, Leonard Fournette, and Mark Ingram, who all found new home’s this season.
With the majority of the big running backs off the free-agent market by now, who remains, ready to be picked up and produce instantly for an NFL team? Here are the top 3 remaining running backs in free agency.
NFL Running Backs Free Agents 2021: Top 3 Remaining Running Back In Free Agency
#1 NFL Running Back Free Agent: Le’Veon Bell
Le’Veon Bell was one of, if not the best running back in the entire league. The Steeler was named to 2 First-Team All-Pro teams and picked up 3 Pro Bowl nods in his first 5 seasons. And Bell paired up with QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown became one of the NFL’s toughest and strongest trios.
However, 2020 was a rough year for the back. Bell signed with the Kansas City Chiefs midway through the season but failed to make an impact. He rushed only 63 times in 9 games and racked up less than 300 yards while playing backup to rookie Clyde Edwards Helaire.
Le’Veon Bell stats since leaving Pittsburgh. Bruh, it ain’t Andy Reid it’s you! pic.twitter.com/GRVSpydHJp
— Mikey T (@Mikeyvellii) June 13, 2021
What teams should sign Le’Veon Bell?
1. Arizona Cardinals
Chase Edmonds is currently ready to be the lead back on the Cardinals but there is no certainty he can handle that. Adding Bell alongside Kyler Murray’s running ability would certainly add a dimension to Arizona’s offense.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
A reunion in Pittsburgh will be interesting to see with Bell. The team lost James Conner in Free agency, and with rookie Najee Harris on the team, Le’Veon could be a great veteran to help Harris through the motions.
3. Miami Dolphins
A move to Florida will be something that Bell will definitely fancy. The Dolphins are an upcoming team that is a contender. And no state income taxes paired with great weather is something Bell will desire. Plus the Dolphins are not particularly loaded at the position, so his experience as a vet will come in handy for the younger backs.
#2. Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley’s desire for a career revival in his hometown of Atlanta didn’t go how he would have hoped. After his diagnosis of arthritis, Gurley couldn’t go back to his All-Pro form that made him a star in LA, and just couldn’t return to his elite level.
Gurley started 15 games in 2020, but only managed to rack up 678 yards and 9 scores. He did this while averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry.
— NFL (@NFL) June 16, 2021
What teams should sign Todd Gurley?
1. Detroit Lions
The Lions don’t exactly have the most fearsome running back room in the NFL, but bringing in a guy like Gurley could greatly improve their depth and help improve the younger guys on their team.
Rookie running back D’Andre Swift finished with 521 rushing yards last year, but things are looking positive as he enters his second year. If he can have a guy like Gurley around to mentor him, he’ll be in even greater shape for the upcoming season.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens might have been an even more perfect fit for Todd Gurley had their running back situation not been stable. The Ravens managed to keep their ground game pounding with the emergence of rookie J.K. Dobbins.
He finished the year with 805 yards and averaged an absolutely scorching 6 yards per carry. Gus Edwards provided a solid backup too rushing for 723 yards on 5 yards per carry. And of course, Lamar Jackson tacked on a 1,000+ rushing yards of his own.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
Lo and behold another young running back room that could do with some depth. Austin Eckler finished as the lead back for LA last year, and he managed only 530 yards.
His backups aren’t too developed either, and they could all do with a veteran presence like Gurley on their team. In fact, Gurley had more rushing touchdowns last season than the top three Chargers running backs combined. That is simply atrocious.
#3. Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson is set to return for his 15th NFL season in 2021 as one of the most decorated running backs in league history. The veteran RB has accomplished pretty much everything there is accomplish. Seven Pro-Bowl selections, four All-Pro honors, eight 1,000+ rushing yard seasons and a league MVP award.
But Peterson is yet to be a world champion. Earlier this offseason, the former Minnesota running back told SiriusXM Radio that he hopes to play for a title contender in 2021.
“I’m looking for a team that’s built to go and chase a championship.”
Free Agent RB @AdrianPeterson discussed heading into his 15th season in the NFL.
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) April 20, 2021
In 2020, Peterson started only 10 games and rushed for a decent 604 yards and 7 scores on 3.9 YPC. So it’s proven that even at his age, he can be a valuable asset in the locker room.
What teams should sign Adrian Peterson?
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Similar to Le’Veon Bell, Peterson will be a great addition to help rookie Najee Harris. With Conner leaving the team to join the Arizona Cardinals in free agency, that already-slim running back depth chart got even thinner this offseason. So Peterson could make an impact for the Steelers.
2. Miami Dolphins
Like the Steelers, the Dolphins also struggled in the run game this past season — finishing the year in the No. 22 position with just 105.5 yards per game. Leading the team with 584 yards and three rushing touchdowns on the year, it’s abundantly clear that 2020 starter Myles Gaskin needs some help producing for the Miami offense.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs need a real RB2 on the team. Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire led the way last year with 803 yards, but the next leading rusher was quarterback Patrick Mahomes with 308. Peterson could provide some extra rushing help to complement the league-leading passing attack.