« Ricky Proehl's final season? | Main | 'What's the deal with this team?' »

December 29, 2005

Be realistic about free-agent RB prospects

Before imaginations get running wild, get one thing straight. Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James and Jamal Lewis won’t join the Carolina Panthers next season. Yea, wishful thinking is nice, but let’s be realistic. The Panthers aren’t going to have a lot of salary cap room for 2006 and Alexander (Seattle), James (Indianapolis) and Lewis (Baltimore) would come with hefty price tags. Besides, there’s a good chance each could end up back with his current team and never hit the free-agent market.

With Stephen Davis clearly not in the Panthers’ future (at least not as a feature back), and DeShaun Foster still trying to prove he can handle the role, the Panthers have to make a huge decision after the season. In an offense built on the running game, the feature back might be as important as the quarterback. This decision can’t be taken lightly.

The Panthers also have Eric Shelton, a second-round draft pick this year, coming back from injury. He’ll factor into the mix, but the Panthers can’t count on Shelton yet. There aren’t any sure things (see the list of potential free agent running backs below), so what the Panthers need are options.

Although Foster hasn’t been great, he’s as good as the rest of the mid-level potential free agents. The Panthers might decide to stick with what they know and re-sign Foster, who can become a free agent in March. Several high-ranking members of the organization really liked Michael Bennett when he came out in the draft. But Bennett basically has been Foster in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. Baltimore’s Chester Taylor is going to be in the same price range as Foster and he might be a better fit in Carolina’s offense.

There’s also the possibility the Panthers could ignore the free agent class and draft a runner to pair with Shelton.

Here’s a list of the potential restricted and unrestricted free agent running backs for 2006:

2006 NFL Free Agents Running Backs

Player - Type - 2005 Team

Ahman Green- UFA - Packers

Anthony Thomas - UFA - Saints

Antowain Smith - UFA - Saints

Arlen Harris - RFA - Rams

Artose Pinner - RFA - Lions

Aveion Cason - UFA - Rams

Chad Morton - UFA - Giants

Chester Taylor - UFA - Ravens

David Allen - RFA - Rams

DeShaun Foster - UFA - Panthers

Edgerrin James - UFA - Colts

J.R. Redmond - UFA - Cardinals

Jamal Lewis - UFA - Ravens

James Jackson - UFA - Cardinals

Jonathan Wells - UFA - Texans

Kenny Watson - UFA - Bengals

LaBrandon Toefield - RFA - Jaguars

Lamar Gordon - UFA - Eagles

Maurice Morris - UFA - Seahawks

Michael Bennett - UFA - Vikings

Mike Cloud - UFA - Patriots

Moe Williams - UFA - Vikings

Musa Smith - RFA - Ravens

Najeh Davenport - UFA - Packers

Omar Easy - UFA - Raiders

Reno Mahe - RFA - Eagles

Rock Cartwright - UFA - Redskins

Ron Dayne - UFA - Broncos

Shaun Alexander - UFA - Seahawks

Shawn Bryson - UFA - Lions

Steve Bush - UFA - 49ers

Tony Fisher - UFA - Packers

Travis Minor - UFA - Dolphins

Verron Haynes - UFA - Steelers

Posted by Observer Sports on December 29, 2005 at 06:27 PM | Permalink

Comments

Of all the names I see on this list, the one that jumps out at me is Maurice Morris. If the Seahawks keep Shaun Alexander, then I seriously doubt they would be able to keep Morris. I've seen Morris play quite a bit over the course of his career and I think he could be a good starter for us if we threw him the cash. He is a feature back in the making if he can escape Alexander's shadow.

Posted by: Shane Dunaway | Dec 30, 2005 12:08:15 PM

Out of all of the potential free agent RB's for 2006, the ones the Panthers may be able to sign at an affordable price that jump out to me is Chester Taylor of the Ravens and Najeh Davenport of the Packers. I'd probably go with Chester Taylor, because I believe that he's still relatively young, I don't think he's been in the league that long.

Posted by: Perry | Dec 30, 2005 12:33:15 PM

I think the real issue is not the running backs but rather the pathetic job we have been doing with run blocking. I really dont think that any running back could make much difference given the horrible job the O line has done. No holes, no lanes - the RB's are getting in the backfield!

Posted by: Ritchie | Dec 30, 2005 1:08:49 PM

I agree, upgrade the run-blocking and fire whoever is in charge of it now.

It's not a crime to dream about a "fantasy" HB in our backfield.

If we let Foster go, Buckner retires, and we cut Davis, we have some real cap space to work with.

Why not go after Edgerrin James?

If we make it a couple of games deep into the playoffs---that tells me we're one or two puzzle pieces away from the Big Game.

It's not like Alexander or James are Sean Gilbert, Doug Evans, or the sainted Reggie White. They're not has-beens hoping for one more big contract before retirement.

Not to mention the amount of national attention that a big name signing would bring.

I'm not the only one who is confused by big name celebrities wearing RAIDERS gear and Pittsburgh gear, instead of Carolina jerseys and hats. Carolina was in the Superbowl only two years ago. It's been almost a generation since Pittsburgh or Oakland were that close.


Posted by: Jonathan in MA | Dec 30, 2005 7:17:37 PM

I say we stay w/ Foster. I'd like to see hime play w/ the confidence knowing he's the #1 guy going into the season behind a healthy O-line. I would like to see Jonathon Wells from Houston get signed. He's been a capable backup and fits that big back mold that we'll be losing in Stephen Davis.

Posted by: steve | Dec 31, 2005 2:51:14 AM

I would like to see ricky williams in a panther uniform. We should try to get him from miami. He would be a good fit for the style of our team.

Posted by: grady | Dec 31, 2005 5:24:00 PM

Artose Pinner has done a fantastic job spelling Kevin Jones in Detroit this year. I should know. I had KJ on my fantasy team, and I about tore my hair out whenever Pinner came in and ended up with the key yardage or TD run. I'd say he'll make a good addition to give Foster some breaks on long drives.

Posted by: Derek | Jan 2, 2006 2:53:05 PM

Foster is fine. The O-Line needs work. Chicago killed us. No running lanes, D-Linemen in Jake's face all day. Rework the line and get someone that can block and open holes for the running backs.

Posted by: Keith | Jan 4, 2006 6:54:57 AM

Foster has a wealth of talent for the position, but Goings has more heart.
He finished last year with six 100-yard rushing performances out of eight games. he's a grinder and a reciever out of the backfield. the only thing he's lacking is top speed. he's my choice for the starting spot, with Foster as a third down/option back.
and yeah, the offensive line needs to seriously work on run blocking. Chicago made us look like a third-rate team.

Posted by: Eric | Jan 5, 2006 6:59:50 PM

Oh yeah, don't forget about Eric Shelton. He's a big bruiser, but he needs to learn to run lower, and drive with his shoulders in the hole. He runs like a stick figure now, no wonder he doesn't break many tackles.
He has about as much talent as Foster has, he just needs to learn how to use it.
Let him practice with the fullbacks, it'll help him learn to run low with good knee bend and good force to drive defenders back.
That would help develop his style, because he is what he is, a power back.
If you watch all the great power runners run, such as Stephen Davis, Edgerrin James, Shaun Alexander, Stephen Jackson, and even tiny little Warrick Dunn, they all run leaning forward, and all have excellent balance.
Teach Shelton some of that, and you'll see a world of improvement in the kid.

Posted by: Eric | Jan 5, 2006 7:11:11 PM

Oh yeah, don't forget about Eric Shelton. He's a big bruiser, but he needs to learn to run lower, and drive with his shoulders in the hole. He runs like a stick figure now, no wonder he doesn't break many tackles.
He has about as much talent as Foster has, he just needs to learn how to use it.
Let him practice with the fullbacks, it'll help him learn to run low with good knee bend and good force to drive defenders back.
That would help develop his style, because he is what he is, a power back.
If you watch all the great power runners run, such as Stephen Davis, Edgerrin James, Shaun Alexander, Stephen Jackson, and even tiny little Warrick Dunn, they all run leaning forward, and all have excellent balance.
Teach Shelton some of that, and you'll see a world of improvement in the kid.

Posted by: Eric | Jan 5, 2006 7:12:23 PM

I need a prospect list for a truck driver placement agency

Posted by: susan flander | Jan 16, 2006 4:23:33 PM

How can you people just act as if there's not a problem with our backfield? We have the fastest, soundest, and most hard hitting defense in the league! We need a playmaking, gamechanging running back. One that can give and take hard hits, and also make defenders miss so that our offense can stay on the field as long as possible. This type of back will produce efficiency and allow us to have tremendous balance in our playcalling, which will have opposing defenses standing on their heels all day. (we already have a very intellegent offensive coordinator who knows how to keep teams guessing, but he has nothing to work with.) Foster will never start 17 games, plus playoffs for any team in his career! His body is fragile and broken! Davis is on the downslope, but he does possess unbelievable patience and vision out of the backfield. It's not enough though. We need a tough, healthy, versatile back so we can win the time of possesion in every game we play. If we only allow the opposing team 4-6 possesions per game, our defense would never give up more than 10 points! This will complement smitty's ability to get behind the defense, and explode on teams. We may even want to pick up a solid WR in the second round (or TE) but our defense is absolutely set for next year. I say we pick up Micheal Bennet through Free Agency, and take the best available WR, RB, or TE in the first round of the draft. Pick up a solid OL in the second round. Mahoney or Lendale White would be perfect in giving depth at the RB slot. Otherwise, take Sinorice Moss, the Oregon or Miami(OH) WR. Or take a TE in Pope, Lewis, or Vernon Davis. If none of the players I've listed are on the Panthers team next year, I'll be truly dissapointed in this organization. SO FIND A RUNNNING BACK PANTHERS, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: John | Feb 1, 2006 12:55:53 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

Advertisements