NFL Free Agency: 10 Possible Landing Spots For Chargers RB Darren Sproles

Chris Eggemeyer@@chriseggemeyerCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2011

NFL Free Agency: 10 Possible Landing Spots For Chargers RB Darren Sproles

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 16:  Running Back Darren Sproles #43 of the San Diego Chargers is unable to make a catch against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on December 16, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/
    Harry How/Getty Images

    If you're a San Diego Chargers fan, you know the struggles of running back Darren Sproles.

    For those of you who aren't, here's a brief rundown.

    At the end of last season, the Chargers failed to reach an agreement on a long-term deal for the electrifying return man and backfield threat known affectionately as the Lightning Bug. Naturally, then, the Chargers placed the franchise tag on him, hoping that they could pick up the negotiations after the season ended.

    2010 was not kind to Sproles. He was ineffective as a runner and return man, had some crucial fumbles, and was even taken off the punt return unit because of his special teams play.

    Now, with their season officially over, the Chargers are entertaining the possibility of letting Sproles go to free agency.

    What a reversal.

    With his release into the wild as a total possibility, let's take a look at 10 places where Sproles could land next year.

Seattle Seahawks

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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 02:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes with the ball against the St. Louis Rams during their game at Qwest Field on January 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    As much as Seahawks fans may want him to be, Marshawn Lynch isn't the answer to fixing their all-but-dead running game.

    Seattle desperately needs a proven difference maker, so Darren Sproles will seem like the hot commodity to them this offseason.

    With his proven versatility as a running threat, passing threat and return threat, he would fit perfectly with the Seahawks.

Denver Broncos

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball during their game against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The chances aren't great, but the Broncos could really use him.

    As a return threat, Sproles would have the chance to make a big difference on a special teams unit that could use the spark, and as a runner, Sproles would do well as a backup for Knowshon Moreno.

    If he can come at a low enough price, Denver could certainly make a play for him.

Indianapolis Colts

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 02:  Joseph Addai  #29 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    This is more an attempt to break down a team's psychology more than anything else.

    No matter what the Colts do, it seems like they end up near the bottom of the league in rushing year after year, and it doesn't make much sense.

    Sure, when you have Peyton Manning, why would you want to run the ball? But on the other side of things, look at the New England Patriots. They have Tom Brady, yet they still managed to find balance in the running game this year.

    It seems totally within the realm of possibility that the Colts attempt to remedy their rushing woes by going after the player that has given them so much trouble in the past.

    The Colts are intimately familiar with what Darren Sproles is capable of, and would be eager to turn that against the rest of the league.

Miami Dolphins

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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 26:  Running back Ricky Williams #34 of the Miami Dolphins breaks away from linebacker DeAndre Levy #54 of the Detroit Lions at Sun Life Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Miami, Florida. The Lions defeated the Dolphins 34-27.  (Photo by Mar
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    With Ricky Williams on his way out sometime soon and Ronnie Brown underperforming, the assumption is that the Miami Dolphins will pursue a running back in April's NFL draft.

    Why do that when you could simply pick one up in the free agent market?

    Darren Sproles seems like he would fit well in the Dolphins offense and while he can't throw the ball, he is still a multi-threat back, which makes him a weapon that any team would want to use.

New York Jets

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    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: LaDainian Thomlinson #21 of the New York Jets runs against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jets 38-34.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    It seems like something short-circuited in the Jets running game this year, because while it has been effective, it certainly hasn't had the same effect on teams that it had last year.

    LaDainian Tomlinson likely won't be with the Jets for long, so they'll need someone to at least back up Shonn Greene, if not compete for the top job. What better player than Darren Sproles?

    Besides, the 'reunion of Chargers running backs' storyline is just too good.

St. Louis Rams

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    ST. LOUIS - NOVEMBER 15: Stephen Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams carries the ball during the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Edward Jones Dome on November 15, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Look at me, picking on the NFC West once again.

    Well, let's be honest, they sort of deserve it.

    That's neither here nor there though.

    Injury concerns continue to pick up for Steven Jackson, and the Rams would do well to look at Darren Sproles as the guy to fill a backup role. He would create a great one-two punch with the bruising style of Jackson.

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

    A lot of people in Washington have been pointing at Donovan McNabb and shouting, "See! We need a quarterback!"

    First off, let me assure you that you don't need a quarterback. What you need is offensive talent.

    While talent at wide receiver is certainly a top concern, so is talent at running back. The top rusher for the Redskins in 2010 was former Denver running back Ryan Torain, who posted a meager 742 yards in the Redskins' 30th-ranked rushing offense.

    Sproles brings a versatility to a running game that can really open things up. The Redskins would be making a big mistake if they didn't at least give him a look.

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
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Cowboys may have started to get things back on track under the direction of new head coach Jason Garrett, but there is still no denying that their running game appears to be on the way down.

    It's probably a long shot to happen, but the Cowboys should nonetheless give Darren Sproles a look. At the very least, he can work as a change-of-pace back.

Carolina Panthers

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 02:  Jonathan Stewart #28 of the Carolina Panthers against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on January 2, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Panthers were ravaged by injury this season, especially at the running back position. With star running back DeAngelo Williams on IR and Jonathan Stewart dealing with injuries, the Panthers really didn't have anyone to go to.

    Darren Sproles would provide much-needed depth for the Panthers, considering that they should be wary of another year like this one.

San Diego Chargers

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 12:  Darren Sproles #43 of the San Diego Chargers drags Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs on his run at Qualcomm Stadium on December 12, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Wait a minute, wait a minute, didn't I say that Darren Sproles would be going somewhere else?

    I said it was possible, but not certain.

    There is absolutely a chance that he remains a Charger, and here's why:

    1. History: Sproles has a history of success with the Chargers, and they would like to see if he can still continue that in San Diego.
    2. Money: The breaking point is obviously money-related, but Sproles isn't in a position to be asking for $5-7 million a year. If the Chargers can keep him on the cheap, why not?

    So there you have it. After all of that, the most likely landing spot for Darren Sproles is probably his current team, the San Diego Chargers.

    Who would've thought?