Top Landing Spots for Raheem Mostert in Potential NFL Trade
In the NFL, player storylines change quickly. During the 2019-20 postseason, San Francisco running back Raheem Mostert emerged from under the radar as a key playmaker in the 49ers' run to the Super Bowl. Now, he likely feels underappreciated.
Last offseason, Mostert signed a three-year, $8.7 million extension primarily as a special teamer.
Mostert logged 137 rush attempts for 772 yards and eight touchdowns during the 2019 season, and coupled with the 49ers' decision to trade Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins, the 28-year-old should see an increased workload as Tevin Coleman's partner in the backfield. As a result, he wants appropriate compensation for an expanded role.
The 49ers hope to see Jerick McKinnon back in action after he missed the last two seasons with knee injuries, though the dual-threat tailback is still on the path to recovery. For now, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan must decide if Coleman and Jeff Wilson Jr. have enough to carry the ground attack or if they must accommodate Mostert's financial demands.
As the 49ers weigh their options, we'll take a look at potential landing spots for Mostert based on team fit and need at running back across the league.
The Atlanta Falcons signed Todd Gurley in April, and he'll likely replace Devonta Freeman, whom they released in March, as the lead ball-carrier if healthy. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter could use Brian Hill and Ito Smith to spell the star running back, but the front office can add Mostert to form a stronger tandem.
Although Gurley passed the Falcons' physical, his knee issues may lead to lighter workloads in the upcoming campaign. He registered a career-low 223 carries in 2019.
In his last eight games, which includes the playoffs, Mostert proved he could carry a significant load, logging double-digit rushing attempts in each matchup. If the Falcons feel the need to preserve Gurley, they can split touches between him and a tailback capable of sharing the lead role.
The Falcons offense would take on a more balanced approach with a backfield duo that can control the clock and provide a physical dimension to Koetter's scheme. Over the past two seasons, Atlanta has ranked 27th and 30th in rushing yards.
Last season, the Bears ranked 27th in rushing yards with Montgomery as the lead tailback, and he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. The front office didn't add a notable veteran to the backfield in the offseason, which leaves Tarik Cohen as the change-of-pace option.
Cohen hasn't recorded more than 99 rush attempts in any of his three seasons. He's more of a receiver than ball-carrier at the position, logging a career total of 1,027 yards on the ground and 1,534 yards as a pass-catcher.
Although Bears general manager Ryan Pace thinks Montgomery can handle a bigger workload in the upcoming term, per ESPN's Jeff Dickerson, head coach Matt Nagy wouldn't have to force-feed the second-year pro. Instead, he can split the workload and challenge opponents with a run-heavy scheme.
If Trubisky or Foles struggle under center, Mostert and Montgomery could carry this team to victories as key components of a physical offensive game plan.
Fournette has an uncertain future with the Jaguars headed into the 2020 campaign. In an attempt to shore up the running back position and field a competitive offense this fall, Jacksonville can acquire Mostert and allow its current starter to hit the open market next offseason.
Jacksonville wouldn't have to pay a fortune for Mostert, who flashed for the first time in his age-27 season. The Jaguars also could revisit trade offers for Fournette if they're comfortable with Mostert handling the lion's share of the rush attempts.
In 2020, Fournette's contract carries an $8.6 million cap hit, per Spotrac. If the Jaguars trade him and then acquire and extend Mostert, they can still save some cap space. Jacksonville could also keep both running backs to complement second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II in the passing game.
The Philadelphia Eagles ground attack will again prominently feature 2019 second-rounder Miles Sanders in 2020. Team brass allowed Jordan Howard to walk during free agency after he served as the No. 2 running back last season.
In 2019, Sanders racked up 1,327 yards from scrimmage. He seems capable of taking on the majority touches for another productive year, but the Eagles don't have much behind him on the depth chart.
Backup running backs Corey Clement and Boston Scott have 203 combined career rush attempts. Mostert would step in as more than a reserve, enabling the Eagles to punish opponents on the ground.
With wideout Alshon Jeffery on the mend after Lisfranc surgery and rookie first-rounder Jalen Reagor's inexperience, the ground attack could help the Eagles through potential offensive ruts early in the upcoming campaign.
In the big picture, Sanders and Mostert would serve as a solid tandem for years to come, which means less pressure on quarterback Carson Wentz to put the team on his back as he did last season because of injuries at the wide receiver position.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn in the third round of April's draft, they may still have interest in a veteran ball-carrier.
Per Pewter Report's Jon Ledyard, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians commented on the possibility of signing free-agent running back Devonta Freeman, saying, "If his price tag was reasonable. He's asking for a lot of money and we don't have a lot of money."
Depending on what Mostert wants, he could come at a cheaper price than Freeman. They're both going into their age-28 campaigns.
Freeman has two 1,000-plus-yard Pro Bowl seasons on his resume, which allows him to command more money on the open market. On the other hand, Mostert has much less wear and tear on his body with only 178 carries compared to 951 for the former Atlanta Falcons playmaker.
At a good price, the Buccaneers can add a fresh tailback who can pair with Ronald Jones II and allow Vaughn to come along steadily in the offense.
Keep in mind, quarterback Tom Brady has become accustomed to working with multiple running backs. In 2019 with the New England Patriots, he played alongside three tailbacks (Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead) who all recorded at least 92 total touches.