With the start of free agency hopefully coming any week now, we begin a series on guys we think the Dolphins could be targeting in the open market. And with both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams among the list of players currently not under contract, we figured there was no better place to start than at the running back position.
Sure, the Fins selected Daniel Thomas in the second round of April’s draft, and yes Kory Sheets and Lex Hilliard are still under contract, but it’s no secret that Miami is looking to bolster its backfield in free agency.
Here are a list of a few of that many guys at this position that will (probably) be free agents when the new league year starts and why they may or may not fit in with the Dolphins…
DeAngelo Williams (Carolina): Probably the crowned jewel of the free agency market, Williams missed time in 2010 with foot and ankle injuries, but is expected to be ready to go in ’11. In 2009, he ran for over 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns, but his best year was ’08 (1,515 yards and 20 total TD’s.) I think most Dolphin fans would be ecstatic if the team could sign him as he would quickly become an exciting new piece to this offense and help mentor Thomas just as Ricky Williams mentored Ronnie Brown early in his career.
Ahmad Bradshaw (NY Giants): Bradshaw has spent his career as the “little back” complement to “big back” Brandon Jacobs in New York and in 2010 became the featured guy in the Giants’ rushing attack, going over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. He can squirt through the hole and make a big play at any time and also can catch the ball out of the backfield (47 receptions in 2010). He did, though, develop a case of fumblitis last year (career-high seven). I see Bradshaw as a great complement to Thomas–and while he’s not as big a name as DeAngelo, he’s just as good of a fit.
Darren Sproles (San Diego): Like the 5’9 Bradshaw, Sproles, at 5’6, is a definite “little back.” The best pass-catcher in the group, Sproles actually had more receptions than carries in 2010 and also provides a dynamic threat in the return game (he brought back 51 kicks and 24 punts in 2010), returning four kicks for touchdowns over the course of his career. Dolphin fans would certainly be excited to have Sproles, one of the fastest running backs in the NFL, in the mix next year, which would certainly continue Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano’s “more speed” theme this off-season.
Reggie Bush (New Orleans): Bush is a dynamic pass-catcher and return man but has had his troubles staying on the field. Last year he played in only eight games and finished the year with a total of 150 rushing yards. Total. Of course, he was splitting time in a crowded backfield. While Bush is not officially a free agent, he is due a massive raise this year and the Saints have said that in order to keep him, they’ll have to re-work his deal–which could be tough to do. Still felt I should include him in this list, though.
Ronnie Brown (Miami): There’s a definite chance that the Fins look to bring back either Ronnie or Ricky, so they merit consideration here. In 2010, he carried the ball 200 times for only 734 yards–which comes to a career-low 3.7 yards per carry average. He scored five touchdowns and also caught 33 passes and for just the second time in his career, he played in all 16 games. With Ronnie, we pretty much know what we’re getting, and you have to figure that 3.7 number can only go up in 2011.
Ricky Williams (Miami): Ricky’s yards per carry was better than Ronnie’s last season (4.2-3.7) running behind the same offensive line, but he is older and also made critical comments of the team after the season. That said, Ireland has made it clear that those comments in no way would prevent him from bringing Ricky back if he decides to do so. Because of his age, it’s not all that easy to “predict” what kind of 2011 season Ricky has in him, but he is obviously very talented and a fan favorite.
2010 Stats for this Group
Most rushing yards: Bradshaw (1,235)
Most rushing touchdowns: Bradshaw (8)
Highest yards per carry: Sproles (5.3)
Longest run: Brown (51)
Most receiving yards: Sproles (520)
Most yards per catch: Sproles (8.8)
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.