It's the week after the Super Bowl, so it's time for my annual way-too-early projections for the upcoming season. While this is an impossible task in February, it is also a good springboard for some beneficial thought exercises. Which free agents do we think are staying? Who might get cut? Who has a bunch of holes to fill? And at running back, there's another question; who is going to lose this game of musical chairs?
Every year the NFL Draft provides the league with a fresh influx of young, cheap talent and we see veterans get left out in the cold. This year, the free agent class is remarkable. For now, I've left Saquon Barkley and Tony Pollard on their respective teams because of reports their teams will franchise them if they can't agree on a deal. Still, you won't see Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt, Jamaal Williams, or several others in the projections below because I have no idea where they'll be playing or if they'll be starters.
While that's a lot of names, I left a few out. Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook could be cap casualties if they don't agree to take a pay cut. And Alvin Kamara could be facing a suspension for a legal issue from last year's Pro Bowl weekend. Even if those guys all play 17 games for their current teams the running back landscape will look a lot different in just a few months.
What is actionable about that? I would not invest heavily in these backs this offseason. And I wouldn't necessarily change that tune if one of them signs a cheap deal before the NFL Draft. I expect multiple teams to sign a guy and invest in the draft, and the best bet may be to bet on the youth at cost.
Here are my way-too-early projections for the running back position: