It is not often that a talented 24-year-old running back becomes available in NFL free agency. Certain teams need to take advantage of the opportunity and sign Beanie Wells.
According to ESPN, the former first-round pick was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Monday. This ends a four-year run with the organization that featured plenty of injuries and missed games. In fact, Wells' only full season was his rookie year.
Still, the former Ohio State star had some solid performances when he was on the field. He finished 2011 with 1,043 rushing yards and an impressive 10 touchdowns.
While he only averaged 2.7 yards per carry in 2012, he was forced to run behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. The same unit led the league in sacks allowed, while other running backs did not fare too much better, running the ball with a team average of 3.4 yards per carry.
If he can stay healthy (and that is a big if), Wells can be the type of player that he was expected to be coming out of college. He is still very young, and he simply needs to find the right fit in free agency.
These are the teams that should look to sign the newly available player.
Despite having one of the best passing offenses in the league last season, the team was held back by its 29th-ranked rushing attack led by Michael Turner. Fortunately, the organizations decided to release the veteran running back.
There are a few proven runners on the market like Steven Jackson and Reggie Bush, but the team would be better off with a younger talent like Wells. Otherwise, the Falcons would be dealing with the same problems of an aging player breaking down.
Running backs simply do not have the same career longevity of other positions. The 24-year-old Wells still has plenty in the tank and can play with this young team for a few years.
Additionally, Wells is a bigger running back that can perfectly complement Jacquizz Rodgers, who can retain his role as a third-down player. Rodgers is a good receiver and outside runner, but Wells can get the tough yards in the middle that Turner used to get.
If anyone is going to replace the double-digit touchdowns of Turner, it is Wells.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams and Steven Jackson parted ways this offseason because the running back did not want to reduce his role in the offense, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
However, this does not mean that St. Louis should be ready to go forward with just Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead in the backfield.
Pead got very little playing time in his first year, while Richardson started to break down at the end of the year. After looking good for most of the season, he only rushed for 24 yards on 16 carries in the final five games.
St. Louis needs another player who can carry much of the load while these two young running backs get acclimated with the NFL. Wells can be that player.
Also, a reduced role should keep the former Cardinal healthy for longer, which will allow the Rams to get more value from the running back. They can give him about 10 touches per game while working in Pead and Richardson, as the trio combines to have one of the better backfields in the league.
San Diego Chargers
It turns out that the Chargers missed Mike Tolbert more than they could have imagined last season. After the fullback rushed for 490 yards with eight touchdowns last year, mostly on short carries, he left for the Carolina Panthers.
A year later, San Diego tied for last in the NFL with only four rushing touchdowns as a team.
Ryan Mathews still has potential as a starting running back, but he has proven that he is not a great inside runner. This is where Beanie Wells comes into the picture.
The 6'2", 229-pound running back runs hard between the tackles and has shown over his career that he can get the tough yards. Considering San Diego currently has no one that can do that, this would be a good fit.
Once again, Wells would not be the full-time running back, but this would work in his favor as he tries to stay away from injury. This should help get the Chargers back to their winning ways.