Before free agency officially begins, TGH will be giving you our picks for the top free agents at every position in 2020. Keep in mind, these are our opinions for the top players and will not list every free agent. As of writing, all of the players listed are currently still un-signed.
Today we list the best free agent running backs on the market ahead of 2020.
Derrick Henry picked a great time to have a massive year. On the strength of his performance, the Tennessee Titans not only made the playoffs, but the AFC Championship Game.
Henry rushed 303 times for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns. Those were all career highs, as was his 102.7 yards per game. He only fumbled five times on the season, which is excellent concerning his workload.
In 18 games he had eight 100-plus yard performances. In five of those eight games he rushed for over 150 yards, including a 211-yard day in Week 17. Considering his production on the ground, he did not need to be utilized in the passing game much. Henry only caught 18 passes on the year for 206 yards and two touchdowns. But those low stats speak much more to his rushing dominance rather than any sort of lack of pass-catching talent.
The Titans will likely throw a boatload of money at Henry in the offseason, as he is the heart and soul of their offense. Without him, they lack a true identity due to the fact that no other running back could duplicate this kind of production.
Rest assured, however, that if Tennessee tries to play coy and low-ball him, he would have a lot of suitors for a new team. If they can afford him, that is.
Staying in the AFC South, Carlos Hyde also had a career year with the Houston Texans.
Hyde was on his fourth team in three years in 2019. His 29-year-old season saw his best mark in yards per game, at 1,070 and his second-best in both touchdowns and yards per attempt. He also had a career high in carries, at 245. This is significant because of the dynamic nature of the Texans’ offense and quarterback Deshaun Watson’s ability to run the ball, also.
He stayed healthy, playing in every game of the 2019 season and Houston’s two postseason games. Hyde also collected three 100-yard plus rushing performances on the year. His effectiveness in the passing game is the weakest part of his resume in 2019, but again, Watson has many options and can also take off running instead of using Hyde as a safety valve option.
The market for him is uncertain, as he is (almost) a 30-year-old back. But he showed his production is not slowing down. Being that he is Houston’s number one option in the backfield, they will likely try to re-sign him. However a team in desperate need of a proven running back could over pay, leading him to yet another team.
Melvin Gordon began his 2019 season with a holdout. Reportedly saying he wanted to make as much money as running backs like Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson and Todd Gurley, he refused to play the beginning of the season or participate in training camp without a new contract.
The Chargers did not comply by either trading him or paying him. Gordon returned to the field anyway for Week 5’s matchup against Denver. In his debut, he rushed only 12 times for 31 yards and no touchdowns.
In the 12 games he played, he had 612 yards on 162 carries, scoring eight touchdowns. He would add 296 yards and one touchdown through the air as well. The stats are skewed, considering the missed time and training, but Gordon did not have a fantastic year. For example, played in only 12 games in 2018 but rushed for 885 yards.
He has proven to be a top-tier back in the past however, as he has failed to score less than eight touchdowns in only one season (his rookie year) and has had one 1,000-plus yard campaign in 2017 (Gordon nearly eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in 2016, but came up only three yards short).
After holding out and not getting the money he felt he deserved, Melvin Gordon will probably be looking for a new team. Whether or not that team is willing to pay him Ezekiel Elliott-type money is up in the air, however.
Featured Image courtesy of James Kenney/Associated Press
Check out Eli and Ben’s Podcast “Courtside Ramblings” on SoundCloud or iTunes — TGH Podcast Feed
“From Our Haus to Yours“