Miami Dolphins free agency preview: Top 5 running backs

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: Running back C.J. Anderson
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: Running back C.J. Anderson /

The Miami Dolphins will enter the 2018 free agency period needing to add to their running back group. How they fix the depth at the position could come through free agency or they could wait until the draft.

Miami currently has four running backs on their roster. Led by Kenyan Drake who had impressive 2017 after the trade of Jay Ajayi, Miami has no proven depth behind him. De’Veon Smith, Senorise Perry, and Damien Williams make up the remainder of the group.

Williams is scheduled to become a free agent and he could still be in the Dolphins plans. It has been reported over the last year that Williams is well liked by Adam Gase. The problem that Miami has had with him is that he has been on one year deals and Williams wants to get some security moving forward. If the Dolphins offer more than a one year deal, Williams will likely stay but that is a big “if”.

The free agent list of running backs is not a deep one this year. At the top is Le’Veon Bell who may or may not leave the Steelers. One thing is for certain, he will be paid an elite salary which is something Miami can’t afford. But what a thought that would be. Here is a look at more realistic options for the Dolphins this free agency period.

UPDATE: The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell.

Dion Lewis – New England Patriots

Coming off a 895 yard season and five yards per carry average, Lewis is ready to hit free agency, running. 2017 was the first year that Lewis avoided injury, something that has plagued him throughout his career. That won’t stop the very hard running back from finding a team this off-season.

In Miami, Lewis would not need to be the full-time back which will keep him fresh over the course of the season  but his salary demands could put the Dolphins out of the market.

C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos

Anderson is not a pending free agent and is on the third year of a four-year contract with the Broncos. A contract that incidentally was brokered by the Dolphins in 2016. The Broncos matched the deal to keep Anderson but now they are ready to release him.

Anderson is coming off his first 1,000 yard season and he looked really solid on an otherwise bad Denver offense. Gase is very familiar with Anderson having coached him while with the Broncos. A failed attempt two years ago and still a need at the position? Expect Gase to push for a move to get him if he is released.

Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals

Hill is only 25 years old but his production has slipped considerably from his impressive rookie season in 2014. Part of the problem has been the sharing of touches with a few running backs since as the Bengals use more than two runners at times throughout the game. The offensive woes of the Bengals has also hurt his production as well. Of course Hill’s running has taken a step back and a change of scenery could be good for him.

While he would split carries with Drake in Miami, Hill would have a chance to change his career around and he won’t be expensive.

Jerrick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings

McKinnon is a lost name with the Vikings. He has had decent games but can’t seem to get his YPC totals up. Still McKinnon’s best attributes is as a receiving threat out of the back-field. At only 26 years old, there is still time for McKinnon.

McKinnon’s biggest knock is that he doesn’t run well and that is a problem for a running back. Can he be coached up or would he excel in the right situation? Hard to say but he is an option as a pass catcher, but then again, that is Damien Williams forte and both should be about the same price so Miami should consider staying home before looking at McKinnon.

Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49’ers

Carlos Hyde is a very solid runner and will hit free agency for the first time in his career. At 27 years old, Hyde is a little older than some but has a lot of qualities you look for in a running back. Hyde could however price himself out of any Miami deal.