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Willis McGahee joins crowded list of unemployed running backs

Another veteran running back hit the open market Thursday, as the Denver Broncos announced the release of Willis McGahee. The 31-year-old running back now joins Brandon Jacobs, Michael Turner, Beanie Wells and Cedric Benson, to name a few, on the unemployed list. Which of these running backs will get another shot first and where will he end up?

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  • Ian Rapoport NFL Network
  • New York Jets could be a good short-term fit for McGahee

There are a ton of big names still available on the RB market, and all but Beanie Wells have one thing in common: They are aging, with their best days behind them. That said, I'd be surprised if Willis McGahee wasn't scooped up quickly.

Provided he's willing to settle for a one-year, incentive-laden deal, McGahee should be the top running back on the market. He might be up there in age, but he's averaged better than 4 yards per carry in each of the past two years. He's not a workhorse anymore, but he can be a perfect No. 2 back.

Depending on what the New York Jets do with Mike Goodson, there could be a short-term fit there for McGahee.

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  • Daniel Jeremiah
  • If he proves himself healthy, Wells could land job with Steelers

Beanie Wells should land on another roster prior to the launch of training camps next month.

Wells has battled injuries throughout his brief career, but he's been productive when healthy. A combination of youth and talent helps separate him from the rest of the running backs currently on the street. The Pittsburgh Steelers would seem like a good fit for the former Arizona Cardinals runner.

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  • Charley Casserly
  • McGahee's the best of the bunch, but veteran backs face one big obstacle

It depends on two things, which are difficult to predict: 1) The medical evaluation of any of these backs by the teams; and 2) the contract demands of each player.

I think Willis McGahee is the best back of this list, and therefore would have the first shot of being signed. He is a downhill runner with vision who can move the chains, but is not a big-play threat. McGahee could be a second back and have some value for a team in that role.

The problem with veteran backs who are not starters anymore is that, typically, they cannot help on special teams. This limits their opportunities.

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  • Gregg Rosenthal
  • Bucs and Raiders make sense, but Cowboys are best team for McGahee

I'd place Willis McGahee at the very top of a market. He's coming off an injury, but he's a true three-down player unlike the rest of the available backs. Guys who can't catch the ball or pass protect wind up having short careers. McGahee is tough and would upgrade a lot of backup situations.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders and New York Giants all make sense, but I see the Dallas Cowboys as the best fit. They are very thin behind DeMarco Murray, and Jerry Jones is not afraid of big names.

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  • Jason Smith
  • Wells needs to be patient, should have job after camps open

At this point, all of these players will have to wait for training camp for a phone call, and only one of these players is likely to get it.

Age has claimed everyone on this list save Beanie Wells. Despite his health issues, which landed him on this list, Wells is still only 24. With 24 career touchdowns on Wells' NFL résumé, teams at least know he can be a dependable goal-line back. At this point, his best chance is if there's an injury opening, because if anyone wanted him for even the smallest role, he would have been signed by now.

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