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Free Agent Running Back Rankings

I have some interesting theories (or, at least, I think they are interesting) on what the Vikings should do at running back this year.  The truth is that those theories don’t really involve free agency, however, which probably isn’t all that surprising provided that Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart still sit atop the depth chart at the position.

Still, in the spirit of the offseason, I have put together my free agent ranking at the position.

Top Tier

I would be surprised to see the Vikings spend big money on a running back, as I mentioned already, but there is no denying that the traits of certain pending free agents could be attractive.  A running back that possesses an extra ability to contribute in the passing game or special teams may warrant some consideration, especially if Rick Spielman ends up dealing Percy Harvin to another team.

That is the reason that Reggie Bush tops my running back rankings for the Vikings.  I have long said that Harvin and Bush are two very similar players, despite officially playing different positions, and Vikings fans can remember all too well how Bush is capable of making a difference as a return man and slot receiver.  Besides, in Miami he was really able to come into his own as a true running back and managed to be relatively durable.

Second Tier

My second tier of running backs all possess special teams value, and pass catching abilities, that give the Vikings something they don’t already have in Peterson or Gerhart.

2.  Felix Jones, DAL

3.  LaRod Stephens-Howling, ARI

4.  Darius Reynaud, TEN

The Rest

Considering that the Vikings may not even be searching for a third running back this offseason, it the rest of this group either seems highly unlikely or completely interchangeable.  Here are the rest of the free agent running backs that could be available in March:

5.  Steven Jackson, STL

6.  Mike Goodson, OAK

7.  Peyton Hillis, KC

8.  Shonn Greene, NYJ

9.  Rashard Mendenhall, PIT

10.  Danny Woodhead, NE

11.  Kevin Smith, DET

12.  Tashard Choice, BUF

13.  Javon Ringer, TEN

14.  Justin Forsett, HOU

15.  Cedric Peerman, CIN

16.  Bernard Scott, CIN

17.  Kregg Lumpkin, NYG

18.  Jalen Parmele, JAC

19.  Jackie Battle, SD

20.  Brian Leonard, CIN

21.  Rashard Jennings, JAC

22.  Kahlil Bell, CHI

23.  Ronnie Brown, SD

24.  Stefan Logan, DET

25.  Brandon Jackson, CLE

26.  Cedric Benson, GB

27.  Jerome Harrison, DET

28.  Mewelde Moore, IND

29.  Ryan Grant, GB

Restricted Free Agents

As you can see, the running back market is already set to be quite saturated even before a new class of rookie enter the picture via the Draft, so it is even more unlikely that we will see the Vikings try to sign any restricted free agents to offer sheets.

The restricted free agents for 2013 are:  Isaac Redman, Andre Brown, Chris Ivory, Jonathan Dwyer, Ryan Torain, Chris Ogbonnaya, Antone Smith, Curtis Brinkley, Lance Ball, and LaGarrette Blount.

Of course, if any of these guys are not tendered by their respective teams then they may end up in the unrestricted free agent pool.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. I’d like to see us sign woodhead(receiving rb) and maybe even (insert speed rb here). Toby and asiata are both similar to AD. As explosive as Peterson is, because of his size and running style he’s an excellent power back and goal line back, where he lacks is receiving/3rd and long (woodhead takes care of that) and break away speed (most cb’s can catch him in the open).
    Now i loved Toby coming out of college but not on our team, he runs like AD, but he isn’t as explosive or fast, he provides us no value like he would in say new England.

  2. I hope we pick up a RB in the draft instead or take a flyer on an undrafted guy. I think a guy in the 6-7 round a speedster, 3rd down realiable hands who can lean the nuances of pass protection (like a shane vereon of the NE patriots..) AD is the vikings offense, but on 3rd down we have Toby for protection.. we could use a speedster for some speciel designed plays, screens, one-on-one against LB and so on.

      1. Yea, so I’ve heard, rarely soon one around though.. maybe it’s too long a playcall to fit that mini play calling sheet that musgrave have

        1. oh, geez, where’s my code book?

          here it is. let’s see, ah, rarely soon one around…hmm, not here, i’ll hafta try my ouija board

    1. Malte, why do you want us to draft one? A Danny Woodhead(I really want woodhead if you can’t tell) is known to be a good 3rd down back unlike a rookie. He will also be cheap(as a rookie would) and is young. I just don’t see why drafting a rookie would be better than signing a FA.

      If we were looking for a RB of the future then yes get a rookie but for a backup situational player FA FA FA FA!!!!

      1. the reason I think Woodhead is good in the first place is because of New England.. I don’t see any RB worth picking up in FA that fits or needs. If there is a speedster / a consistently pass catching RB worth taking a risk on in the 6th / 7 th round I think we should pull the trigger. Like a Chris Rainey last year (I know he is a free agent, but I doubt vikings will pick up this trouble maker) the reasoning behind drafting is because I think RB 3rd down / speedsters can be found later in the draft and FA don’t offer much this year IMO

  3. Ok, it’s agreed then. Next time Cal posts a typo, we are on him like cats on a one-winged bird.

        1. WHOOOOODogies, I didn’t know Cal was old enough to know who Jed Clampett was!
          And we don’t need no stinkin’ RB. We got AD!

          (And don’t think I didn’t notice YOU called him “AD” Skol!)

          1. Granny done fixed him up some a her possum stew, Fran. He’s happier’n a hound dog on a fresh rabbit trail.

          2. fran, didn’t you date ellie may back in the day?
            and bud, didn’t you take granny to her first hoe-down?

  4. If it’s true that quality WR’s will still be there at #55 ( not fully convinced) that would seem to put us in BPA mode from OL, DT, LB, and DB positions. Would really like to see us get a powerful and athletic guard.

    1. Agree 100 %.. Especially after looking at the early reports of senior bowl.. Even a guy like Quinton patton could be a choice in the 2nd round.. He looked really spectacular in the first pratice. there shold be guys to focus on at the 2nd round as far as receivers go

    2. I agree about the BPA and I would like a Guard but not in the first round, or even the 2nd. Good OG’s can be found throughout the draft. Draft any OL from Wisconsin/really any big 10 school because they are always awesome for some reason.

      1. I don’t want a good guard, Skol. I want a GREAT one!

        (OK, I agree – not in the first round…)

  5. A solid 3rd down back is what our 31st rank passing attach is missing. Gerhart will be a FA soon… so I think the Vikings will draft a RB.

    RB Joseph Randle has great hands and can pick up a blitz! He is my sleeper pick for the Vikings in the 3rd round. Ponder needs a reliable guy he can check down to that also has enough explosiveness to make people miss.

    I also like RB Ray Graham from Pitt in the 4-5 round as a 3rd down option.

    Finding a RB in FA is not the answer… if we trade Harvin, we will need to hit a home run with a WR and a 3rd down back to make up for the lost production of Harvin.

    1. in the 3rd round? don’t you think that kinda early for a team like us to pick up a RB?
      I could see us taking a RB in the draft but it wouldn’t be before the 6-7th round. anything else is a bit to early in my estimation. We simply have to many other needs to fill first (DT, LB, WR, CB, OG)

      1. Yes the 3rd round is high, but we will need a quality RB after Gehart hits the free agent market next year. Joseph Randle is a guy with great hands that can motion out wide and create miss matches with LBs. He is an outstanding check down option that can take it to the house.

        Google his blitz pick up highlights and you will fall in love with this kid’s willingness to do the dirty work.

        Our biggest need is to improve our 31st ranked passing game! We need to draft 2 quality guys who can impact our passing game! Why not take a running back in the 3rd round that can help?

        1. Why not take a 3rd round? becuase we simple have to many other needs. I would rather draft 2x WR and hoping that one of them works out. Gerhart is also still on the team next year so no need to rush taking a RB this year.. I think we have to many pressing needs to take a RB that early.

    2. I’m with Malte here no way should we draft a RB before round 6, even then I’m not sure. Look at starting RB’s and quite a few were 6th/7th or UDFA’s. And why wouldn’t finding a RB in FA be an answer? We aren’t drafting a RB of the future we are drafting a backup/3rd down player.

  6. Your old pal Fragile agrees with Skols on this one. Woodhead might be worth a look, the kid is pretty tough. Is David Palmer is available? We need to find someone with a “little wiggle” who can catch passes out of the back field. Assuming Cheech will be back (and Freds thinks he will be) we don’t need anything at RB. Just put this pot smoking,weight throwing, cry baby at RB more often on third down and we will see a ton of wiggle. Denzel had best plan a bit more carefully in the coming years to take some of the wear off of Adrian.

    The rest of this list is a large group of terrible players who should start looking at

    1. Don’t cha want a speedster too with “Gettin’ away from the cops speed” like Chris Johnson? Problem with percy in the backfield on 3rd down is he can’t pass block that well and why wouldn’t you want him playing WR on 3rd? Get a similar player who’s more suited to run out of the backfield(WOODHEAD!)

      1. you sure good some man love for WOODHEAD huh? 🙂
        – well I don’t think he is a bad RB by any means, but I think NE and brady makes him look better than he is.. Actually I’m intriqued more by Larod Stephens Hawlings.. He made our defense look like fools trying to tackle him. Don’t know about his blocking abilities though.

        1. Your English is definitely improving, Malte. I’m pretty sure the term “man love” is not in any translation manual. But be careful who you hang out with, son, as some “improvement” in the language may not be a good thing.

          1. malte’s cool, being from the old country and all, even if he does call us wops once in a while

        2. Hey, who doesn’t love woodhead? I just like his skillset. for 1-1.5m a year we would be getting a RB who is crazy elusive, can pass block, and woodhead is great at catching balls. That is exactally what the vikings need in a 3rd down RB.
          I don’t worry much about Brady making him look better because he is a RB, if he was a WR I would be more nervous but any qb should be able to throw the dump offs to a rb, even Webb and Ponder.

          1. hmm did you see Webb throw in the playoffs?
            – I think woodhead often runs option routes similar to Wes Welker and sometimes the play is designed to go to him. But i’m not against if we end up with Woodhead, but if there is a good late round sleeper RB I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on him.