Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The 2010 NFL free agent marketing process consists of three different phases. As soon as the signing period opens, the "plum" choices are selected by teams at premium prices. We finished this first phase a few weeks ago. Signings tend to die down after a couple of weeks as teams prepare for Draft Day. We are currently here, as it's less than a week before the 2010 NFL Draft. And finally, teams re-enter the free agent market after the Draft when circumstances don't allow them to fill a need with college "graduates."
In the first of a four-part series, we will look at the free agent running back position.
Mike Bell, Philadelphia - The Eagles believe they have a breakaway threat in the "Brian Westbrook mold" in the form of LeSean McCoy. However, McCoy was pretty much invisible down the stretch in 2009. So Philadelphia went out and signed restricted free agent Mike Bell from New Orleans. Bell played very well as a starter for injured Pierre Thomas at the beginning of the season and could be a nice late-round selection. McCoy has a fourth-round ADP (Average Draft Position), while Bell can be had around the 13th round.
Larry Johnson, Washington - The Redskins seem intent on picking up running backs on the downside of their career - see Willie Parker as well as Johnson. It seems fantasy owners can't decide who, if any, in the Washington backfield will be "fantasy worthy" and neither Clinton Portis (ADP 110), Johnson (ADP 145) or Parker (ADP 151) are being selected before the 10th round.
Thomas Jones, Kansas City - While starter Jamaal Charles has vaulted into the second round after a great second-half finish in 2009, his newly acquired backup, has still received some attention. Jones is being picked around the seventh round with many other split-backfield options like Ricky Williams and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Willie Parker, Washington - The Redskins seem intent on picking up running backs on the downside of their career - see Larry Johnson as well as Parker. It seems fantasy owners can't decide who, if any, in the Washington backfield will be "fantasy worthy" and neither Clinton Portis (ADP 110), Johnson (ADP 145) or Parker (ADP 151) are being selected before the 10th round.
Chester Taylor, Chicago - Taylor (ADP 100) remains a ninth-round pick despite backing up Matt Forte in Chicago this season versus backing up Adrian Peterson in 2009. However, the effect of his arrival in the Windy City, along with a disappointing season has dropped Forte from the fourth-overall pick last year into the late fourth round in 2010 (ADP 46).
LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets - Tomlinson was still a first-round selection last year (ADP 8) but after signing with the Jets will now be a "handcuff" to one of the fastest rising stars in the league - Shonn Greene (2009 ADP 117 vs. 2010 ADP 12). "LT" is being selected in the eighth round.
Leon Washington - Despite Tomlinson's arrival in New York, Washington is still well entrenched as the Jets' receiving back. His value has dropped among fantasy owners from an ADP of 104 in 2009 to 142 in 2010.
Jerome Harrison - Despite a spectacular three-game finish (he ran for 661 yards rushing, 5 TD) Harrison is still available as a restricted free agent. The Cleveland Browns placed a second-round tender offer on him. He's being selected in the fifth round, which means fantasy owners believe he will start in Cleveland and produce solid numbers.
Jamal Lewis - The former 2,000-yard rusher has drawn little interest from NFL teams and therefore no fantasy interest at all. With 2,542 carries (10,607 yards) on his resume, there probably isn't much left in the tank.
Jerious Norwood - Norwood had his big opportunity last year when starter Michael Turner went down with injury, but he too suffered injuries and never could capitalize on the situation. A restricted free agent, Norwood will likely return to his backup role in Atlanta. He's drawing very little fantasy interest.
Brian Westbrook - Like Tomlinson, Westbrook was a high selection in 2009, who's value has dropped "off the map" in 2010. With knee problems and multiple concussions last year, Westbrook is finding it tough to nail down a job in 2010. His current ADP is 160.
Cadillac Williams - When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put a first-round tender on Williams, it made it impossible for another team to sign him given his past history of injuries. He is being selected in the ninth round after posting 821 yards and four scores in 16 games last year. It was the first time in his NFL career that he played in every game in a season.