The crazy eyes of Reggie Bush.
It's been a tough time for running backs in the NFL, because the pass-heavy era has quarterbacks, receivers and offensive tackles as the most appealing of positions.
Factor in defenses needing to keep up, and raw pass-rushers and shutdown corners also take part of the spotlight from the ball-carriers.
Well, thanks to the dominance of Adrian Peterson and the impact rookie Alfred Morris last season, running backs are a bit more important this offseason. That said, let's check out the best backs hitting this year's free agency.
Note: Full unofficial list of 2013 free agents courtesy of NFL.com.
For starters, Reggie Bush is not expected to get re-signed by the Miami Dolphins.
Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com last month:
Source: #Dolphins met with Reggie Bush's reps in Indy. "Unlikely" to return. Team views him as a luxury, he'll want to get paid. Has options— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 24, 2013
Bush apparently has options as well.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the Lions have interest in Bush as a potential free agent and that interest is "real."
He'd like to play in New York so that opens a couple of avenues. He'd like to play for a winner, which might include the Falcons in the mix.
After accounting for 2,660 total yards for Miami the previous two seasons, Bush will definitely be a solid addition to any offense.
In late February, Steven Jackson opted to free agency according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Rams running back Steven Jackson will void the final year of his contract March 12, league sources told the Post-Dispatch on Monday. That means Jackson, the Rams’ career rushing leader, will test the free-agent market.
As far as outside free agents, it appears that Steven Jackson, who reportedly will void his contract with the Rams, will be the top target in light of the release of running back Michael Turner.
Well, Jackson is certainly capable of becoming an every down contributor. Every season since 2005 he has racked up over 1,000 rushing yards, so the man brings the pain to defenses each snap.
Factor in his instinctive vision and ball control and Jackson will be a great get for any offense.
The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't expected to bring back Rashard Mendenhall.
Do they want to tie up $2.646 million in two backup running backs? Do they give [Isaac] Redman a $2.023 million tender in order to pretty much guarantee that no team signs him?
It's a tough call, complicated by the fact the Steelers not only do not have a No. 1 back, but they also don't have many backs at all after cutting Chris Rainey and with Rashard Mendenhall expected to leave as an unrestricted free agent.
This comes as no surprise since the past two seasons have been rough on Mendenhall's durability. He hasn't gained over 1,000 yards since 2010, but that season he proved consistent dependability.
Despite having bigger size for a back, Mendenhall is a better dual-threat contributor than at first glance. After all, he has collected 661 receiving yards throughout his career.
Regardless of where Mendenhall winds up, though, someone will be getting a sound back to slam up front and sneak underneath as a checkdown target.
If there's any concern regarding Ahmad Bradshaw's health, there is some updated news.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:
Cut last month by the Giants after literally being cut in the foot by a surgeon the month before, running back Ahmad Bradshaw has not yet been cleared medically.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Bradshaw is scheduled to see his doctor on Wednesday, with the goal of receiving the green light to visit teams and take a physical.
Ironically, the 2012 season was arguably Bradshaw's finest performance. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and totaled 1,260 yards in just 14 games played.
Possessing the athleticism to beat linebackers in single coverage, Bradshaw also has the explosiveness to hit defenses between the tackles. His vision once into the second level is among the best in pro football, because Bradshaw fares well at accumulating yards after contact.
He's also only turning 27 years old before next season, so wherever Bradshaw suits up in 2013 expect him to contribute nicely.
Shonn Greene is only 27 years old and coming off two solid campaigns for the New York Jets.
By that token, Greene has gained much appeal this offseason via Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com late last month:
There has been some buzz here on the future of RB Shonn Greene, an unrestricted free agent. Spies say Greene, coming off an underwhelming 1,000-yard season, is expected to draw interest from the Falcons and Broncos.
No matter where he ends up Greene is capable of making a strong immediate impact.
With the quick acceleration to punch the gut of a defense, Greene also provides the lateral balance to go off tackle and redirect on counters, traps and zone cutbacks. Greene's ability as a receiver must also take notice, because he caught 72 passes for 362 yards between 2011 and 2012.
This underrated threat in Greene's repertoire enhances the balance of an offense and makes play-action more dangerous. Factor in the combination of athleticism and size and Greene is a reliable pass-blocker as well.