Take your money and run

 

 

As a dynasty owner, one must think beyond the upcoming season and more about the future of their franchise. One important area of focus for every dynasty owner should be players who are entering a “contract year”. The possibility of free agency not only impacts the player themselves, but their former and future team’s depth chart and the players that currently make that up.

NFL Players who are entering a contract year have that extra incentive to showcase their ability to play in the NFL and therefore should be strongly considered by dynasty owners when making final roster decisions during the off-season.

This four part series continues with 5 running backs who are entering a contract year and therefore should be under your watchful eye(s). Clickhere to obtain the contract-year article on quarterbacks released in late May, 

leveon bell

Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers):

The Steelers are definitely not a team that is afraid to let a player walk but they would be foolish to play head games with Le’Veon Bell. Even though he is coming off a major MCL/PCL injury to his knee, Bell has to be considered a top five running back but couple that with being suspended for the first four games of last season due to DUI and marijuana possession charges last year and it causes one to hesitate when considering his value which is most likely to factor in when the Steelers and Bell are in negotiations for a contract extension.

Potential team for 2017:

If the Steelers don’t find a way to keep Bell on their roster, there will be a ton of disgruntled fans behind the Steel Curtain and plenty of teams looking to find room in their salary cap to sign him. It all comes down to how Bell responds to his injury this year as to what his future beholds but I would be surprised if the Steelers don’t find room to keep him on their roster with the talent he has and the role he fillls in their offense.

Eddie Lacy Burger

Eddie Lacy (Green Bay Packers:

Last year at this time, Eddie Lacy was a top five selection in many redraft leagues as he was pegged to have a breakout season but let his owners down after a season of sub-par production and injuries. Today he is barely a Top 10 RB instead of a top 5 player overall and was called out by coach Mike McCarthy as being overweight and out of shape.

Eddie spent the off-season with the creator of P90X, Tony Horton, to get himself back into game shape and it apparently worked as Lacy checked in last year at this time weighing 234 lbs and is now reportedly close to 20 lbs lighter if not more.

lacy in shape

Potential team for 2017:

This is a big year for Lacy as he needs to regain the respect of his team and those making decisions by the end of the season which it sounds like he has already began to do with his dedication to getting back in shape. If that is the case and he has a solid year toting the rock for the Packers then he will likely be doing the same for the next few years but if not, it may be time for the Packers to part ways with him and look for a more consistent back by bring in a veteran and/or drafting a running back to compete with his current backup (James Starks).

If Lacy is not on the Packers roster next year, he will certainly get an opportunity to compete for a starting spot on another roster. Some of the teams possibly willing to give him that opportunity next year are the Patriots, 49ers, Eagles, Giants and Redskins.

Latavius

Latavius Murray (Oakland Raiders):

Latavius Murray just posted his first 1000-yard season but not by much although he did show that ability to be an every down back that most NFL teams are looking for. The Raiders did draft DeAndre Washington from Texas Tech early in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft to help out with short yardage and third downs but they seem to be adamant that Murray is their guy at the position.

Potential team for 2017:

If not for his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and his 41 receptions last year, I am not so sure it would be a question whether the Raiders consider offering Murray a new deal but given his versatility, I would think they will try to retain him but not without a “team friendly” contract unless he totally shreds the stat sheet this year which is not likely to happen.

If Murray does not impress his current team to retain him then Murray will likely need to resort to taking a back seat to another back in hopes of earning a role on a team looking for depth at the position. This could be a team such as the Colts who are looking for a running back who can distract and be a threat to the opponents defense as a receiver and a rusher. Otherwise, I could see Murray being a great fit with the Giants or Redskins in 2017.

Danny Woodhead

Danny Woodhead (San Diego Chargers):

Danny Woodhead has defied odds his entire career. Coming from a small school in Nebraska (Chadron State), the former Eagle was also undersized for an NFL player measuring 5’8″ but had the advantage with his speed while clocking in with a 4.3 forty.

Woodhead has truly defied all odds and has already well surpassed any expectations the so-called experts had back in 2008 when he was signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent immediately after the NFL Draft.

However, Woodhead just turned 31 in January and is set to be a free agent next January. Danny has always filled that “complimentary back” role well throughout the years but was not able to mask the inability of newly acquired RB Melvin Gordon to perform during his rookie campaign last year.

Potential team for 2017:

I am not sure Woodhead will be willing to uproot and move versus retire but if he does, he will be best off seeking teams looking for that back that can fill the void and spell their starting RB when necessary while being available for short yardage and goal-line situations. I can see the Patriots considering him to come back to the team next year pending on how Dion Lewis returns from his injury.

darren-mcfadden

Darren McFadden (Dallas Cowboys):

Darren McFadden will turn 29 just before the start of the 2016 NFL Season. He signed a 2-year contract back in March of 2015 and will become a free agent after the 2016 season.

To say that McFadden’s NFL career has been a roller coaster is an understatement as he has shown flashes of brilliance but has struggled with staying healthy for a full season while battling injuries to his toe, knee, foot, etc.

He finished his first season with the Cowboy’s as the NFL’s fourth leading rusher last year with 1089 yards (4.6 YPC) and added another 40 catches for 328 yards giving him just over 1400 yards from scrimmage after finishing just his second full season in his 8 year NFL career.

McFadden has never been that guy in the NFL that you can rely on to get the ball across the goal line so this off-season the Cowboys signed Alfred Morris to a 2 year contract who had a disappointing season last year with the Redskins but had a tremendous 3 year start in the NFL prior to that. Dallas then drafted yet another running back (Ezekiel Elliott) with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft this year leaving some to speculate that the Cowboys will look to trade either Morris or more likely McFadden before the start of the season.

Potential team for 2017:

The Cowboys will be hard pressed to convince McFadden to stay with the team if Elliott is what we all think he is and that is…….GREAT! Therefore, I will be surprised if he is still playing on a home field that has a star in the center next year.

If/when that happens, I believe McFadden would be a great fit back on the West Coast in a Chip Kelly led offense in San Francisco or possibly even going back to the team that originally drafted him……..the Oakland Raiders!

In Summary:

These are just five running backs whose contract does not last beyond the 2016 season and there are several others in the same situation. As a Dynasty owner it is beneficial to not only identify these backs but those who are waiting in their wings to fill their role on their current team so take note and be proactive instead of reactive when these players’ contracts expire.