NFL Trade Rumors: 10 Best Running Backs on the Block
As the NFL has transitioned into more of a passing league, running backs have taken a back seat in importance to a team. Last year's Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers, lacked any sort of running game for the majority of the season.
The first-round of the 2011 NFL draft only had one running back taken, Alabama's Mark Ingram. More and more teams are placing the future success of their franchise on their quarterback's shoulder.
Of course there are still some teams that depend heavily on their running backs. Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson are still the focal points of their team's offense. However, this is certainly not the norm.
There is still a need for quality running backs and there are plenty of teams looking for one and plenty of teams looking to trade one. Here is a look at the 10 best running backs on the trading block and where they might end up.
10: Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins
Ryan Torain is only entering his third year in the NFL, but it appears as if Washington might be ready to move on already.
Torain was thrust into the line-up last year due to injuries and performed admirably in his first real NFL action. He averaged nearly 75 yards per game and had four touchdowns in only 10 games played.
However, Torain lacks elite speed and the ability to break away from tacklers. He is more of a power running back, but he even struggles at breaking tackles.
The Redskins drafted two running backs in this years draft, Roy Helu and Evan Royster, and it appears as if Torain could be moved.
Team most likely to be traded to: Oakland Raiders
The Raiders will possibly lose Michael Bush and Torian would be a great compliment to speedy Darren McFadden.
9. Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals
Tim Hightower is another relatively young player on this list. The Richmond graduate has been productive his first three years in a limited role.
When the Cardinals drafted Ryan Williams in the second round, their message was pretty clear to Hightower and Beanie Wells: one of them is going to be on the move and I don't see the Cardinals giving up on Wells yet.
Hightower is the type of back who does a little bit of everything well. He can run, block and catch. He doesn't have elite speed, but he is agile and can make players miss. He has had trouble with fumbles and he has never been asked to carry the entire load as a premier running back.
Team most likely to be traded to: San Francisco 49ers
Brian Westbrook is getting old and Frank Gore is coming off a serious injury. The 49ers could use an all-around talent like Hightower to help in the development of their young quarterbacks.
8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, New England Patriots
BenJarvus Green-Ellis burst onto the scene last season. He came out of nowhere to rush for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is an intelligent running back who definitely benefited from played behind a great offensive line. He also wasn't the focus of opposing defenses due to Tom Brady's dominance.
Teams will look at Green-Ellis and see a running back who had great production and the Patriots should use that to their advantage. New England drafted Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley with back-to-back picks in the early rounds of the draft. If either one of those players appears to have more potential than Green-Ellis, the Patriots will probably start shopping him.
Team most likely to be traded to: Chicago Bears
The Bears already have Matt Forte, but Forte struggled at times running the ball and proved to be more of a weapon in the passing game. Green-Ellis could provide the Bears with a runner willing to do whatever it takes to make the extra yard.
7. Willis McGahee, Baltimore Ravens
Willis McGahee has struggled with injuries his entire career. Even though he hasn't suffered major injuries, he has only played three full seasons in his seven year career.
McGahee has the talent to be an every-down back in the league. He runs with determination, has good speed and can even contribute some in the passing game. He has a nose for getting in the end zone, averaging nearly eight per season.
McGahee's injuries hurt him the most when Ray Rice was able to earn playing time at the end of the 2008-2009 season. Rice proved to be a better back and hasn't looked back since.
Team most likely to be traded to: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks traded for Marshawn Lynch last season, which proved to pay off in the playoffs. Adding McGahee would give Seattle a nice one-two punch in the backfield.
6. Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys
Marion Barber was supposed to be the next great Dallas running back. When the Cowboys got rid of Julius Jones, Barber was the main man.
Barber has failed to live up to expectations and has struggled to be an every-down running back. Last year the Cowboys regularly turned to Felix Jones rather than Barber. The drafting of Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray didn't help Barber either.
Barber is best used in the red zone where his punished style of running can be utilized. The former Minnesota Gopher is one of the toughest runners in the league. He constantly breaks tackles and throws defenders off of him.
Team most likely to be traded to: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is likely to not re-sign Cadillac Williams and Barber could be an excellent third-and-short type back for the Buccaneers.
5. Steve Slaton, Houston Texans
Steve Slaton had a sensational rookie year and gave all Texan fans hope for a bright future at running back. Unfortunately, Slaton struggled with injuries and fumbles during his sophomore campaign. Things only got worse for Slaton when Arian Foster had a monster year, leading the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns.
Slaton's time may be up in Houston, but he still has plenty of time to fix the issues that made him become a backup. Those issues were mainly his weight. Between Slaton's rookie and sophomore season, he added weight to attempt to bulk up. This added weight took away Slaton's biggest advantage, his speed.
If Slaton can get motivated and get back down to his original playing weight, he could still be one of the better running backs in the league.
Team most likely traded to: Cleveland Browns
Peyton Hillis is clearly the guy in Cleveland, but Slaton's speed could be a nice compliment to the bruising style of Hillis.
4. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Knowshown Moreno is probably the least likely player to be traded on this list. The Broncos traded for Laurence Maroney last year and even though he was a major disappointment, Maroney has the potential to be a very good running back.
Moreno was the 12th overall pick in the 2009 draft and has struggled to live up to his high draft pick in his first two seasons. He has yet to break the 1,000 yard mark and his durability is still a question mark.
There is no doubting the potential that Moreno has to be a running back that carries the entire load for his team. A change of scenery might help and the Broncos may look to trade Moreno if they can get a high enough price for him. The Broncos are deep at running back and have holes that need to be filled, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Team most likely traded to: Indianapolis Colts
Joseph Addai is a free agent and Peyton Manning has been dreaming for a running back with the potential of Moreno.
3. Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers
Ryan Grant's season came to a screeching halt in week one last year due to a season ending injury to his right ankle. The Packers running game struggled the entire regular season without Grant.
Then came the playoffs and rookie James Starks. Starks played exceptionally in Green Bay's Super Bowl run and had many people forgetting about Ryan Grant.
Before his injury, Grant established himself as one of the better running backs in the league. Back-to-back 1,200 yard seasons will do that for a player. Grant is a smart runner who can find the whole and make players miss at the second level. He doesn't go down easy and always fights for the extra yard.
Team most likely traded to: Miami Dolphins
Both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are free agents and I'm not sure either will be back in a Dolphin uniform. it isn't clear how Grant will come back from a serious injury, but the Dolphins could take a chance on Grant if the price isn't too high.
2. Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants
Brandon Jacobs struggled to find playing time last season. His carries were down by nearly 100 from the previous year, but his total yards were the nearly the same and he recorded four more rushing touchdowns.
Jacobs is only two years removed from back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, but the Giants have favored Ahmad Bradshaw recently. Jacobs had a ridiculous 5.6 yards per attempt average last season to go along with nine rushing touchdowns.
Jacobs is a powerful running back who would rather run over a player than try to run around them. He often puts more punishing hits on opposing defensive players than they could ever put on him. He has good speed for his size and seems to be determined to prove his value as a starting running back.
Team most likely to be traded to: Tennessee Titans
Remember how well the combination of Chris Johnson and LenDale White worked for Tennessee? The combo of Johnson and Jacobs would be even scarier.
1. Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints
To say that Reggie Bush hasn't lived up to the expectations of a second overall pick is an understatement. Although there have been flashes of his brilliance, Bush has struggled with injuries.
Bush is a wonder in the open field, but has had difficulty getting into the open field in the NFL like he was able to in college. He is one of the best receiving backs, averaging nearly 60 catches a season.
Bush has numerous talents and if he could stay healthy for an extender period of time, I think he could truly shine in the right environment. He could have a similar breakout year to the one Darren McFadden had last year if given the chance.
Team most likely traded to: Cincinnati Bengals
Cedric Benson is a free agent and the Bengals need all the offensive weapons to surround Andy Dalton with. Bush could play a number of different roles for Cincinnati and be a great safety valve for Dalton as he learns the game.