I’ve already discussed that I believe the Falcons should be parting ways with Michael Turner this off-season. And if that were to happen, then it would leave a pretty large hole atop the team’s depth chart at the running back.
One hope would be that Jacquizz Rodgers can fill that hole or at least a large part of it. Rodgers was underutilized by the Falcons this past year, and he could blossom in Dirk Koetter’s offense. Koetter maximized the abilities of Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville, and there are many similarities between the two players. But more than likely, the Falcons aren’t going to want to thrust such a huge responsibility on Rodgers. And by no means should the Falcons put all of their eggs in that basket.
Turner’s potential departure should improve the odds that Jason Snelling should return to the Falcons. Snelling is by no means great, but he’s a consistently solid and is versatile due to his ability to play a multitude of roles as a runner, receiver, blocker, and on special teams. He’s proven in the past to be a capable replacement starter for Turner, and thus should get another opportunity to showcase that ability.
But what the Falcons really need to do is go after someone that is in a position to potentially take over the No. 1 spot and be the sort of workhorse that receive up to 250 carries next year.
The big names on the market are Baltimore’s Ray Rice, Chicago’s Matt Forte, and Houston’s Arian Foster. But it’s been well-known since October that Rice and Forte will receive the franchise tag from their respective teams, and Foster is just a restricted free agent. So barring the Falcons packaging players and both of their Day 2 draft picks in a trade, they won’t have the opportunity to even sniff at any of them.
But the free agency cupboard still is not barren after those guys, just there is nobody that is clearly a top back. Cedric Benson (Cincinnati), Michael Bush (Oakland), Tashard Choice (Buffalo), Justin Forsett (Seattle), Ryan Grant (Green Bay), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (New England), Tim Hightower (Washington), Peyton Hillis (Cleveland), Thomas Jones (Kansas City), Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), and LaDainian Tomlinson (NY Jets) are some of the backs in that next group of runners.