NFL Free Agency: Top Running Backs Available for Bargain

Zach DirlamSenior Analyst IIFebruary 13, 2013

Chris Ivory could be a franchise back down the road and will not cost too much this offseason.
Chris Ivory could be a franchise back down the road and will not cost too much this offseason.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Finding talented running backs with a relatively low price tag is one of the most difficult tasks for NFL executives, but there are three individuals who will be available this offseason that can help teams improve their backfield without wasting a lot of salary cap space.

One-time All-Pro Reggie Bush, Shonn Greene and Chris Ivory are all going to be on the open market come Mar. 12 and could make a significant impact for a team as long they find a good fit.

Firstly, Bush is coming off of two solid seasons with the Miami Dolphins, which will have the former USC Trojan looking for a major payday in the coming weeks. Bush amassed over 1,000 total yards in each of his seasons with the Dolphins, but expect him to become more of a situational back if he stays with the Dolphins.

Rookie running back Lamar Miller is ready to be an every-down runner for Miami, which means Bush will need to take a pay cut in order to return to the team.

The open market may not be much better for Bush, who has a history of injuries. Unless a team is willing to dole out a large contract to the seven-year veteran in the hopes that he is able to become more than a situational player, Bush's price tag should not be too high.

Although his 2.06 yards after contact were ranked near the bottom of the NFL last season, Bush remains a threat as a receiver out of the backfield and could be a great fit for the Detroit Lions.

Next up is Greene, who is already 27 years old, despite playing only four full seasons at the professional level. This is by no means a reason to overlook Green's production with the New York Jets over the past two seasons, though.

Greene has been a workhorse for the Jets and eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in both 2011 and 2012. The former Iowa Hawkeye also notched 14 touchdowns during those campaigns.

Several franchises will take a serious interesting Greene, and due to his age the 5'11", 226-pounder is not going to get a long-term deal and it will not take a whole lot of cash to sign him.

Two ideal fits for Greene would be with the Green Bay Packers, who went through several running backs last season and failed to find one who produced with consistency, and the Atlanta Falcons, provided they wind up releasing Michael Turner.

Finally, Ivory has been stuck behind the likes of Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas during his time with the New Orleans Saints, but he could shine for a team looking to add a physical running back.

After signing with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Ivory rushed for 716 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie.

New Orleans drafted Ingram in 2011, despite Ivory's impressive showing in his first year with the Saints. Ivory's role in the offense has nearly been eliminated as a result of the crowded backfield.

The former Tiffin University star will be a value add because he is still relatively unproven. The Falcons and Packers will both be options again, and the Tennessee Titans might even be willing to jump into the mix in order to secure a back to spell Chris Johnson.

If teams are looking for low-cost and potentially high-reward running backs, Greene, Ivory and Bush all fit the bill.


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