Top 2012 RB Free Agents
Photo By Ric Tapia / Icon SMI
Before a year officially ends in the NFL, preparations have already been underway for months as to whom all 32 teams are looking to target for the upcoming draft, and in the free-agent market. While teams still hold rights to franchise tags, and have the ability to retain various players before free agency begins in March, I have a list of the players I feel are top running backs listed below.
When free agency opens up I will update this list, and all other positions linked below. Outside of the actual season taking place, the anticipation of free agency has to be one of my favorite times of the year, as NFL Futures will change, not just for the players who sign with new teams – but for their new fellow teammates as well.
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Last Updated – 3/20
|Player (former team)||New Team||Notes|
|Arian Foster (Hou)||Re-Signed|| Great deal for the Texans as they lock up Foster for five years and under 45 million. It appears Fosters contract is front loaded with about 18 million to be paid out this year, so for his sake he will likely be paid for the majority of the contract.Hopefully, the Texans will focus on re-signing center Chris Myers, to keep Foster on schedule as one of the more productive runners in the league.
|Ray Rice (Bal)||Franchise Tag|| The addition of full back Vonta Leach helped Ray Rice took his game to another level last year. One of the best three down backs in the league, Rice will likely command a contract over 50 million, when the Ravens finally lock him up long term.
|Matt Forte (Chi)||Franchise Tag|| Arguably coming of his best season as a pro, Forte is too valuable to let go, as he’s still in the prime of his career. Hopefully the Bears will get a new deal done with him before the season begins, but either way, he will be in Chicago for the 2012 season.
|Marshawn Lynch (Sea)||Re-Signed|| For better or worse the Seahawks have pinned their hopes of success on Marshawn Lynch. Can’t blame them for signing him to a new deal, but Lynch has had problems with conditioning in the past, and if he starts out slow – like he did a year ago – this team will fall out of the playoff picture early.
|Peyton Hillis (Cle)||Chiefs1 yr, 3 million|| Three million from the Chiefs is better pay that working for the CIA, but Hillis clearly watched his stock-free fall, after firing multiple agents on his way to a one-year deal.At the end of the day Hillis will re-unit with his former offensive coordinator whom he enjoyed so much success with in 2010, and if he has a good year, it should help his stock in the open market, next year.The addition of Hillis is a great buy low for the Chiefs as he will provide the muscle that was lacking from Thomas Jones last year.Considering that Jamaal Charles is coming off an ACL tear, this is an even better deal, and Hillis should be productive.
|Michael Bush (Oak)|
|Mike Tolbert (SD)||Panthers4 yr|| This is getting a little ridiculous in Carolina. I was surprised when the Panthers re-signed DeAngelo Williams for the money they gave him a year ago, and even more surprised about this signing.You already have two starter caliber running backs in their prime, and Cam Newton at quarterback, and now you add this guy?
I like Tolbert, and it appears, they are planning to use him as a full back, so maybe that means he will steal those goal line touchdowns Newton had a year ago.
Whatever the reason, this is a situation to avoid in your fantasy league.
|BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE)|
|Kahlil Bell (Chi)||Tender||It’s likely the Bears will hold onto Kahlil Bell. After showing promise, while filling in for Forte at the end of the year, Bell has proven to be a productive fill in backup.
|Cedric Benson (Cin)|
|Kevin Smith (Det)|
|Ryan Grant (GB)|