Miami Dolphins’ Running Back, Ronnie Brown, who will be 29 at the end of the year; is entering the final year of his contract. And while there is much speculation that Miami will part ways with their 2005 first-round pick at the end of the season, it would be very advantageous to look at the Dolphins options when it comes to a replacement.
First we turn to the current Miami Dolphins roster where you have Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs, Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets. While the Dolphins are considered one of the deepest teams when it comes to running backs, there are no legitimate replacements for Brown. Ricky Williams is the perfect complement to Ronnie, but as we saw last year, is not a guy who can “carry the load” at this stage of his career. Williams is also an UFA (unrestricted free agent), but has asked for a 1 year extension. Patrick Cobbs is a Coach Sparano favorite, but will never mandate the respect from opposing Defensive Coordinators the way Ronnie and Ricky do. Hilliard and Sheets are both intriguing but mostly unproven, and Sheets (torn achilles) now has to wait another year to show what he truly brings to the table.
So that brings us to the other free agent running backs available in 2011. Right now the most notable options would be Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams or Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles. While Charles is only 23 he’s a little smallish at 5’11″, 199 lbs. Williams is only a year younger than Brown and doesn’t seem to be an ideal fit either. One guy to keep your eye on this season is Oaklands Michael Bush. He’s only 26 and at 6’1″ and 245 lbs., he’s a load and maybe a bit underrated because he play’s for the Raiders and backs-up over-hyped Darren McFadden.
Then there’s the upcoming 2011 draft. If you look at the early scouting, it doesn’t appear to be a very deep draft at the running back position. Right now only two prospects are projected in the first round and both are around 5’10″, but a lot can happen between now and April.
So as it stands right now, if Ronnie stays healthy and has a good season, I just don’t see how the Dolphins don’t sign him to a 3 year deal. But if he gets hurt again, or has a declining year, then all bets are off. All this being said, it would be wise for Dolfans to keep their eyes on all the 2011 available free agents as this season unfolds, not to mention the Junior and Senior college running backs; you can bet the Miami Dolphins will.