March 7th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
Blame it on Arian
Free agency kicks off next Tuesday. Some serious dudes are going to be hitting the open market. Game changers like Michael Bennett who led your Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks with 8.5 sacks and Jairus Byrd who since joining the league has had more interceptions and forced fumbles (33) than any other safety. They and a number of others will have more than a few “under the cap” suitors looking to secure their services. What’s common about these two and other interesting free agents is that they fall on the defensive side of the ball.
Offensive players entering free agency in 2014 come with more questions than answers: Is Eric Decker what the numbers tell us he is or has he been elevated beyond recognition by the company he keeps? Can Michael Vick who could not do it in Chip Kelly’s offense do it in a place like … say Minnesota? Is Maurice Jones Drew running on fumes?
Teams courting these players will not be doing so because they are infatuated but because they are desperate. Missteps, missed opportunities have brought them to a place of reluctant commitments – commitments that come with them that sickening feeling: “I feel trapped.” And no team will feel more trapped, more desperate than those looking to fill the positional need at Running Back.
First off, the Running Back is a rapidly diminishing role. Do you remember the last Running Back to take a team to the Super Bowl? You may have to go all the way back to Terrell Davis. It’s a pass happy league with the diminished role of the RB being chopped further into specialized, committee systems. Furthermore, the RB – outside of maybe the Nose Guard – takes more punishment than any other position in the league making 30 years the standard age at which they are led to pasture.
Recent history of high profile RB signings isn’t helping. There’s Steven Jackson who was supposed to shore up the Falcons backfield but ended up playing twelve games, failing for the first time since his rookie season to crack a 1000 yds, and producing a career worst 3.5 per carry avg. Chris Johnson signed what was the richest contract given to a RB and promptly followed with the worst season of his career. He ended 2013 by dipping below 4 yds per carry avg. And as disasters go, can’t forget Arian Foster.
Foster went from an undrafted free agent to taking over the league in 2010. After a second outstanding season, Foster was rewarded with a five-year, 43.5 million dollar contract before the 2012 season. A no brainer – as safe an investment as you can get. After struggling through an injury plagued 2013 pre-season, Foster was ultimately put on IR after playing only eight games. This offseason, between the news of back surgery and rehab, word got out that Foster allegedly fathered a child with a University of Houston coed. Doh! How’s that long term deal looking now?
Next week, Darren McFadden will sit across the table from a GM. The fear of commitment will be palpable.
“Hey, man, I know there are some durability issues, but I’m still young. And when I’m on the field, there’s no question about my productivity.”
“Look, nothing you can say will put me at ease … you can blame Arian for that.”