As NFL teams recover from a lockout stupor, it's becoming clear who came to the party prepared and who is still trying to find directions. Some teams have already made a host of cuts, a lot of them veterans who will likely look for a big deal somewhere else.
Teams are also trying to cram free agency that usually lasts months into a period of several days. It's all madness in the NFL right now, but in so many ways it's a lot of fun.
Marion Barber, released by Dallas, will likely be one of those players who lands on his feet somewhere else. Here's a look at five teams where he might made an impact in 2011.
Detroit is a team that is starting to look more and more competitive. They've started to put the pieces of a good roster together. One area where they still need a lot of improvement, however, is the running game.
Jahvid Best represents a major upgrade over previous feature backs, but the Lions could still use another back who can help Best form a dual threat backfield and also someone who can give Matthew Stafford another target.
Marion Barber may not be much of a receiving target for Stafford, but he is someone who can take the pressure off of the still-developing signal caller. He's also a proven runner, something Best is not. He could make Best ever better and also contribute in short yardage.
The San Francisco 49ers did very well last year to get Brian Westbrook in the backfield with Frank Gore. Gore was much more fresh and the 49ers finally had believable insurance in case he went down injured again.
Westbrook likely will leave for either a bigger deal or retirement. Marion Barber would be a great replacement. His style compliments that of Gore and he also is another sturdy veteran who can replace Gore if he gets hurt, as he's done pretty regularly.
Barber would probably get less playing time than in a place like Detroit, but he could end up having a similar role to his one with Dallas and could turn a short deal in San Francisco into a bigger deal elsewhere in the next year or two.
There are no guarantees about Miami's backfield. Ronnie Brown could leave and has been injury-prone when playing. Ricky Williams is running out of gas it seems. The biggest problem is that Miami needs a sturdy back now that their quarterback situation is in turmoil.
Marion Barber would represent an upgrade over Williams and possibly even Brown and could thrive on a team that leans heavily on the running game. He could also likely get a bigger deal from the Dolphins, who need a running back more immediately than most other teams.
This would be a win-win for both sides. Barber would get a chance to assume a featured role in a running offense, something he didn't get a chance to do as often in Dallas with Felix Jones emerging. The Dolphins would get a tough, sturdy player that could take the heat off of Chad Henne.
Denver already has Knowshon Moreno on the roster, but he's been injury-prone and has had bouts of ineffectiveness during his short tenure. He might need to be paired with someone who can take the heat off and get the tough yards.
Marion Barber would fit that description and he would also do well in an offensive system that values the run much more than the pass. John Fox figures to install his typical ground attack, which requires two backs and relies heavily on both for success and scoring.
Denver would do well to be cautious about how much money they put into the running back position before figuring out who will play quarterback and who will be opening holes, but if Barber is available, they would be wise to get him on their roster.
Mike Shanahan loves running backs. He's made a career out of getting the most out of runners like Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis. He doesn't have a clear cut answer yet on his new team. Portis is likely to retire or head elsewhere for a lesser role after a string of injuries. Ryan Torain was good last year, but could use some help.
Marion Barber could be the next running back that Shanahan makes into a big star. The Redskins, like some other teams on this list, also have no clear cut quarterback and are instead looking to survive with a bunch of guys who haven't done much in the NFL. Running would seem to be the best way for them to win.
Another attractive feature for Barber would be the ability to play Dallas twice a year. Dallas doesn't defend the run particularly well, so it might be an enjoyable way for Barber to stick it to his former team on a regular basis. Sometimes, those motives are powerful factors in contract negotiations.