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With perhaps one of the weaker running back classes coming into the draft in recent years, teams will look more towards free agency to fill their running back needs. While the list of free agent backs isn't outstanding, there are several solid players that teams will be interested in. Let's take a run down of the top five free agent running backs for 2019.
1. Le'Veon Bell
Clearly the most gifted and also the most controversial, Bell sat out all of 2018, turning down over $20 million from the Steelers to test the market. One question is whether or not Bell is in physical condition for the NFL after not playing for a season. Another will be whether or not to risk a long-term deal considering the wear and tear he's already sustained. Bell had 406 touches in 2017 (321 rushing, 85 receiving) and 1541 in 62 career games. He's career numbers are hard to overlook, rushing for 5336 yards, 35 touchdowns and an additional 312 receptions and seven receiving touchdowns.
2. Mark Ingram
Ingram has been a dynamic NFL running back, but is approaching 30 years old, which tends to be the age the most running backs hit the wall. The vast majority of running backs fail to hit the 1000 yard mark after the age of 30. Having said that, Ingram hasn't had the workload that many top backs have had, so he's been relatively fresh. He's had 1649 touches in 106 career games, but has been very productive with two 100 yard seasons and a stellar 4.5 yards per carry for his career. Because of his usage, Ingram is a strong candidate to be productive for the next several years, however word has it that interest in him has been limited. That being the case, it wouldn't be a shock for Ingram to return to New Orleans.
3. Jay Ajayi
Ajayi is young and talented. At 26-years old he's had a 1000 yard season averaging 4.9 per carry with the Dolphins in 2016. In fact, he put up historical type numbers over a four-game stretch in Miami, rushing for 735 yards. Ajayi was also a key component in the back field for the Eagles during their Super Bowl run in 2017. However, he's an injury waiting to happen, having missed 16 games over the last two seasons. Ajayi has averaged 4.5 yards per carry during his career and may be worth taking a shot on.
Anderson increased his stock with his late season and post season success with the LA Rams this season. He averaged nearly 150 yards per game over the final two regular season games on seven yards per carry and showed tough post season running, averaging 4.1 yards per attempt. While Anderson is highly talented, having posted a 1000 yard season with the Broncos in 2017, there have been injury issues as well as times when he simply hasn't seen the field. However, Anderson appears to be in top notch condition heading into free agency. He's likely a good running back to take a gamble on.
Coleman hasn't been worked heavily in his career, mostly due to playing behind Devonta Freeman. When Freeman was injured, Coleman had a chance to shine, setting a career high with 800 rushing yards and 4.8 per carry in 2018. Always productive, Coleman rushed for a career high eight touchdowns in 2016 and had a 4.4 average per rush for his career. Coleman is also dependable as a receiver with 92 career receptions and 11 touchdowns. The one question is to relatively low yardage total as a featured back last season, despite the high average per carry. A team must wonder if he can carry the bulk of the workload before signing him to long-term lucrative deal.