With the start of free agency a day away, the running back market is beginning to heat up.
A position devalued over the course of the past half-decade could provide some of the biggest intrigue when free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
- Remaining free agents
- NFC free agency grades
- AFC free agency grades
- Free agency winners and losers
- Seven riskiest free-agent signings
- Robert Griffin III signs with Cleveland Browns
- Wesseling: Which franchises are on the rise?
- Collateral damage: Players hurt by free agency
- Collateral benefits: Players aided by free agency
Big running back contracts have been few and far between -- the tale of DeMarco Murray, who will be traded from Philadelphia to Tennessee, will offer another reason for general managers to be skittish about expensive deals for free-agent runners.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport offered several nuggets regarding three of the biggest running back names poised to hit the open market:
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
Miller might have priced himself out of Miami, per Rapoport. Last week it was reported that $5 million was the demarcation line, with the Dolphins trying to fit him in under that number. The 24-year-old back enters the open market with as much upside as any tailback.
Rapoport reported that the Texans will make a strong push for Miller before the league year begins, and that both sides are working toward a deal. Houston does have other holes it needs to fill though. One of those moves could be re-signing guard Brandon Brooks, the team's top priority. Miller makes a lot of sense in Houston, but would Bill O'Brien and Rick Smith pay upwards of $6 million per year for a running back?
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have insisted throughout the process that they want Martin back, but at what price? Rapoport noted that Tampa could swoop in at the last minute with an offer to keep him (this would not be unlike 'snipping' on eBay once the market is set).
Another team to watch on Martin is San Francisco, per Rapoport. Martin would be an intriguing fit with Chip Kelly and could pair well with Carlos Hyde. Martin owns the lateral agility Murray lacked to succeed on Kelly's stretch runs. We also know that Kelly isn't shy about adding big-name, high-priced runners with an injury history. Would general manager Trent Baalke go along?
Chris Ivory, New York Jets
The bruiser will have a robust market when free agency opens. Rapoport said the Niners, Texans and Oakland Raiders have all shown interest in Ivory. The Dolphins also will have some interest if Miller prices himself out of their market.
Ivory displayed in New York that he can be one of the better between-the-tackles runners when healthy. However, it's been a struggle to stay on the field -- which should keep his price tag down. Pairing him with another back, such as Latavius Murray in Oakland or Hyde in San Francisco makes the most sense.
Wild card: Jaguars
While the Dallas Cowboys are often the team most often noted when discussing adding a running back, the wild card in free agency could be the Jags.
Rapoport linked Miller, Ivory and Martin to Jacksonville.
General manager Dave Caldwell has a ton of money to throw around and could look to add a running mate to T.J. Yeldon. While the team believes Yeldon has the ability to be a three-down back -- don't be surprised to hear comparisons to Le'Veon Bell this offseason -- adding another back makes sense.
A bruiser like Ivory would pair best with Yeldon. Overpaying for Martin on a short-term, high-money deal would also work for Jacksonville. Would Lamar Miller want to enter into another timeshare? Given that Miller wants 20ish carries a game, the Jags wouldn't seem to be a fit unless the money is overwhelming.