Running Back Stock Market Report — NFC WEST
By Brian Hawkes
Put yourself in the NFL General Manager’s shoes…If you have a player who has little guaranteed money and he hasn’t performed to expectations (whether due to on field performance, injury, or otherwise), what would you do? If we do this, it’s easy to see why rumors are spreading that the Buccaneers are willing to part ways with Doug Martin or the Broncos may draft a running back in 2017. A savvy dynasty owner looks at salary cap commitments before acquiring a player to assess the stability of the player’s situation. This article will do just that.
Here is the continuation of an in-depth look at all 32 depth charts. We will assess cap commitment for 2017 and beyond, and also the potential opportunity that may present itself if there is roster turnover/ depth chart changes. Today: the NFC WEST.
Arizona Cardinals: David Johnson is the definition of a home run draft pick. He is the prototype for today’s NFL running back, and a player NFL GMs aspire to draft each and every year. Johnson is a stone cold lock to be the workhorse and focal point for the Cardinals offense, and the team will look to add depth behind him this offseason.
Los Angeles Rams: The Rams entire offense stalled in 2016, and the team’s dazzling 2015 rookie of the year running back, Todd Gurley, had a terrible season. Gurley’s performance has some questioning if he is more Trent Richardson than he is Adrian Peterson…One thing is clear – he’s going to get every opportunity to succeed due to his contract. Gurley is a testament to the equity a first round running back has; he is due significant guaranteed money each and every year of his rookie contract. The team will look to solidify depth behind Gurley, but likely won’t spend much due to the high salary they already have at the position.
San Francisco 49ers: The biggest news for the 49ers running backs this offseason may be the acquisition of a new head coach. Kyle Shanahan brings an impressive track record of running back production with him to San Francisco. Look for Shanahan to make his mark by adding “his guys” to compete with Hyde. Carlos Hyde is locked up for 2017, but his future in San Francisco will depend on his ability to succeed in the new coach’s scheme. Draughn is not a guarantee to be brought back. Mike Davis is under contract and will get a chance to prove his worth as a backup.
Seattle Seahawks: Seattle is another “blueprint” team – joining Atlanta, Washington, et al. as teams who have invested mid round picks at the running back position. The result is modest salary commitments across the board, and the potential for any one of the running backs on roster to take the lead role. Rawls has had flashes of dominance, but he’s had trouble staying on the field due to injury. Prosise brings the highest draft pedigree, and the most impressive measurables – but injuries have delayed his impact. Collins has had limited opportunity, but brings the physical running style the Seahawks covet. At this stage there is no clear cut favorite in this backfield for the long-term; the roster is likely to stay intact as Seattle awaits the emergence of one player.