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2016 Free Agency Outlook: Running Backs

Posted Feb 29, 2016

With free agency set to begin in March, Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda previews the 2016 NFL free agent class position-by-position. Today's focus is on the running backs.

With free agency set to begin in March, Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda previews the 2016 NFL free agent class position-by-position. Today's focus is on the running backs.

While Matt Jones is in line to be the Washington Redskins’ starting running back for the 2016 season, they’ll likely be in position to add to their depth at the position this offseason.

After being a surprising face in the starting lineup for the Redskins’ 2012 season opener against the New Orleans Saints, Alfred Morris, a sixth-round pick that year, started every game over the four-year span.

After setting the franchise single-season record for rushing yards (1,613) as a rookie, Morris currently ranks fifth all-time in Redskins history for rushing yards (4,713) and is seventh all-time in rushing touchdowns (29).

Morris will become an unrestricted free agent in March, and while the Redskins haven’t yet ruled out a return for the two-time Pro Bowler, they will likely let him test free agency.

“He’s been durable and he’s protected the football,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s been very productive.  And those are three things that are hard to say about any running back for  the amount of time he’s played the position. We wish him well if we don’t get him done, but if we do get him done we’ll welcome him back with open arms.”

Pierre Thomas will also become an unrestricted free agent while Chris Thompson will be a restricted free agent.

Thomas was signed during the last month of the season, as the nine-year veteran recorded 11 attempts for 52 yards along with nine receptions for 84 yards.

If the Redskins ultimately decide to dip into free agency for possible running back depth, here are the veterans set to become available via NFL.com:

--Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings
--Montee Ball, New England Patriots
--Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
--LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
--Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts
--Bryce Brown, Seattle Seahawks
--Reggie Bush, San Francisco 49ers
--Travaris Cadet, New Orleans Saints
--Shaun Draughn, San Francisco 49ers
--Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys
--Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
--Dan Herron, Indianapolis Colts
--Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints
--Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos
--Kendall Hunter, New Orleans Saints
--Chris Ivory, New York Jets
--Fred Jackson, Seattle Seahawks
--Steven Jackson, New England Patriots
--Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
--Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
--Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
--Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
--Bernard Pierce, Jacksonville Jaguars 
--Chris Polk, Houston Texans
--Bilal Powell, New York Jets
--Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
--Jacquizz Rodgers, Chicago Bears
--Stevan Ridley, New York Jets
--James Starks, Green Bay Packers
--Pierre Thomas, Washington Redskins
--Jordan Todman, Pittsburgh Steelers
--Robert Turbin, Dallas Cowboys

Both Ivory and Martin were among the most productive running backs in the NFL last season, as they each ran for more than 1,000 yards.

Ivory, a seven-year veteran, crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career, averaging 4.3 yards per attempt while also scoring seven touchdowns for the Jets.

Martin, meanwhile, had a comeback season for the Buccaneers, as he rushed for 1,402 yards and six touchdowns after back-to-back seasons with fewer than 500 yards.

Matt Forte enters free agency looking for a new team after he confirmed the Bears would not be re-signing him after nine seasons in Chicago.

Despite come off the worst season of his career (898 rushing yards in 13 games), Forte is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL, as he has 487 receptions for 4,116 yards and 19 touchdowns in his career.

Hightower had one of the best stories of the 2015 season in his return to football, as the former Redskin carried the ball 96 times for 375 yards and four touchdowns in his first action since the 2011 season.

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