NFL Trade Rumors: 10 Best Running Backs on the Block

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIMay 16, 2011

NFL Trade Rumors: 10 Best Running Backs on the Block

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    SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Reggie Bush #25 of the New Orleans Saints runs against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on September 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    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

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 26: Austen Lane #92 of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts to tackle Ryan Torain #46 of the Washington Redskins during the game at EverBank Field on December 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Image
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    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

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 25:  Runningback Tim Hightower #34 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the football during the NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 25, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeat
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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

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    CHICAGO - DECEMBER 12: Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis #42 of the New England Patriots runs against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Patriots defeated the Bears 36-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 09:  Running back Willis McGahee #23 of the Baltimore Ravens breaks a tackle by cornerback Brandon Flowers #24 of the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half of their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 25:  Runningback Marion Barber #24 of the Dallas Cowboys rushes the football during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 25, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated t
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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

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    OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 3: Running back Steve Slaton #20 of the Houston Texans pushes away from linebacker Quentin Groves #52 of the Oakland Raiders during an NFL football game October 3, 2010 at The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.
    Thearon W, Henderson/Getty Images

    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

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 05:  Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos in action during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 5, 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    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

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    PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Ryan Grant #25 of the Green Bay Packers rushes after a catch during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 12, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    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

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19:  Brandon Jacobs #27 of the New York Giants runs with the ball against  the Philadelphia Eagles during their game on December 19, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Get
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    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

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    SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Reggie Bush #25 of the New Orleans Saints in action during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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.