On Apr. 22, 2008, Shaun Alexander was freed from the Seahawks' nest. The 30-year-old running back from Florence, Kentucky, has been a free agent for nearly the last three months.
There are some teams who have shown interest in the graduate from Alabama, but no one has signed him yet. Training camp starts soon. Who is willing to take a risk on Alexander?
Three teams have shown interest: the Cincinnati Bengals, the Denver Broncos, and the New Orleans Saints. Each team is ranked 24th, ninth, and 28th in rushing yards per game, respectively.
However, the Broncos lost their star running back, Travis Henry, which would probably knock them down several spots next year. But what teams need him the most? Here's a look at the teams.
Note: These teams are not particularly in order, just a list.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The starter in Kansas City is Larry Johnson, and the young running back has shown that he belongs there. So why do the Chiefs need two strong running backs?
Well, Larry Johnson gets injured relatively easy, missing a total of 24 games in five seasons (eight last season). Also, the Chiefs ranked 32nd last year in rushing yards per game, with only about 78 each game.
To make matters worse, the Chiefs are 31st in scoring per game, and are starting Brodie Croyle at quarterback, a player whose QB rating did not reach over 70 on average. Croyle and L.J. need some help, and Shaun Alexander may be the man to do the job.
2. Chicago Bears
Matt Forte is the starter in the Windy City, but that doesn't mean Shaun Alexander can't help. Forte is just a rookie, and it's unlikely he will pull off an Adrian Peterson performance with the offensive line Chicago has. The Bears, last year, ranked 30th in rushing, but that stat is nearly irrelevant since Cedric Benson has been removed.
Alexander could step in and carry the bulk of the carries, and could slowly even his and Forte's carries per game. Plus, Alexander is usually a running back with injury problems, so if he gets hurt during the middle of the season, he will have already done enough to teach Forte how to handle the fierce defenses of the NFC North.
3. Detroit Lions
Kevin Smith is Detroit's man, and like Forte, is a rookie. However, they are below the Bears because their passing game includes Jon Kitna and Roy Williams, not Rex Grossman and Marty Booker. So Smith won't be running every play.
The Lions ranked 31st among rushers last year, but that may be just because the offensive line is so bad. However, Alexander could step in and show Smith the way, since Smith went to Central Florida, who does not face SEC-level opponents. Alexander, in recent years, has become less of a receiving threat, but if Kitna can put that skill back in Alexander's arsenal, the Lions would be okay with Alexander.
4. Denver Broncos
Selvin Young and Ryan Torian, the likely one-two punch in Denver, is one of the youngest backfields in the NFL. Young was a rookie last year, and Torian is a rookie this year. Jay Cutler is also a third-year quarterback. He may not be able to carry the team if the running game doesn't do what it's supposed to.
If Alexander were introduced as the starter in Denver, the offense would have some big-game experience from a former MVP. It may go against Mike Shanahan's long-term strategy, but bringing in Alexander for a year or two would greatly enhance this team.
If he does well, then his trade value goes up, giving Denver plenty of options with Shaun Alexander.
5. Miami Dolphins
Most people wouldn't propose the idea of having Alexander in Miami, but I think it is a great idea. Since the passing game is still developing with Josh McCown/John Beck/Chad Henne, I think the Dolphins should play it safe and have Alexander and Ricky Williams split carries. After this year, Shaun Alexander could be traded.
Ronnie Brown's season-ending injury last year, after he was on top of the league in rushing, was a devastating blow to Miami. So, do the Dolphins want to rush Brown back into getting 25-30 carries a game while developing the passing game? That is not a good idea.
With a young passing team, the running game is going to be heavily relied on. Williams may not be able to do it on his own. Bring in Alexander, and Miami may do well.
However, the other two teams showing interest in Alexander, the Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints, don't need him as much. I could see where the Bengals would use him, but not the New Orleans Saints. They have young Reggie Bush at the helm, and if he struggles, Deuce McAllister can pick it up.
Ultimately, I think the five teams above are the best spots for Alexander, and since Denver is the only team considering him, the best spot for Alexander would be with the Denver Broncos.