Free-agent backs will have tough time landing big contract

There might be a scramble for quarterbacks when we have some form of free agency, but that will not be the case for the pending crop of running backs.

With the news that Bears free-agent running back Garrett Wolfe was arrested over the weekend, I picked up the phone to ask a few NFL people what the market might be like this year for teams in search of help in the backfield.

Few backs will grab attention

When it came down to asking our experts which potential free-agent running back would you most want to acquire, the panel provided a variety of answers. More ...

When it comes to running backs, the old adage in personnel work is you can never have enough. While that is still true, filling up your roster with good runners isn't going to cost what it might have in years past. As one general manager said, "It's going to be pretty much a buyer's market, especially if the four- and five-year guys are eligible."

A team like the Rams, who wants a quality option to complement Steven Jackson, are going to have good choices.

Guys like Darren Sproles and Ronnie Brown will hit the market, but Joseph Addai (five years), Ahmad Bradshaw (four) and DeAngelo Williams (five) could join the likes of Cedric Benson, Ricky Williams and Mewelde Moore among the crop looking for work.

A college scouting director pointed out with 29 running backs taken in the draft, it didn't leave many teams looking to spend big bucks on the position. He went on to explain that when the top back in the draft didn't go until pick No. 28 (Mark Ingram to the Saints) it pushed a lot of good backs down the draft board who will make teams. There are also undrafted backs like Derrick Locke (Kentucky), Noel Devine (West Virginia) and John Clay (Wisconsin), who will be signed minutes after the labor issues are resolved.

Don't get me wrong, every team needs a good back. Even so, there really aren't many willing to pay much in free agency for a veteran, especially if the next contract brings the back past his 30th birthday.

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