NFL Free Agency Top Running Backs Available

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Feb 29, 2016 04:16 PM EST
Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins
Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins scores a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 15, 2015."

Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller Give Houston Texans Offensive Upgrade 

The Houston Texans made a splash in free agency. 

The Houston Texans came into the offseason looking to upgrade on offense, and the team did just that by signing quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller to free agent deals. Osweiler and Miller were two of the top available players on the market, and they will now share a backfield in Houston.

The Texans signed Osweiler to a four-year deal worth $72 million despite the fact that he has only had seven career starts. The Denver Broncos made a play to keep Osweiler, which drove up his price a bit, but the quarterback opted to sign in Houston over staying with the defending Super Bowl champions. The Texans started Brian Hoyer in the playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs last season, but that game was a disastrous performance by Hoyer and highlighted the major need at quarterback.

While Osweiler has had limited experience since coming into the NFL, he has had the chance to learn behind Manning for a few years in Denver. The quarterback also helped the Broncos earn the number one seed in the playoffs last season while stepping in while Manning was injured. Osweiler ended up appearing in eight games overall, throwing for 1,967 yards, 10 touchdowns with six interceptions.

"The Houston Texans are already a great football team, nobody needs to come in here and work a miracle," Osweiler said. "I'm just going to try to be the best me I can possibly be to add to this football team."

The Texans defense was one of the best units in football last season, and one could argue that some better play at quarterback could have propelled the team deep into the playoffs. The team used four different starters last season, which prompted head coach Bill O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith to focus hard on the position in the offseason. However, the Texans didn't stop there.

The Texans needed to address the running back position as well, and they did that by bringing in Miller, who was considered by many around the league to be the best available running back on the market. Houston released Arian Foster after another injury-plagued season, opening up the position for a new starter.

Miller now takes over after torching the Texans for over 200 total yards in a win for the Dolphins last season. The running back felt that he was not utilized enough last season with Miami and that Houston would give him a better opportunity to be a feature back. Last season, Miller rushed for 872 yards and eight touchdowns after putting up 1099 yards the previous season. Foster was released after missing the majority of the season with injuries.

"We just want to get better every day," Texans owner Bob McNair said. "Certainly this is a day when we got a lot better."


NFL Free Agency Preview

The NFL free agent class of running backs is a solid one this season with names like Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, Matt Forte, Chris Ivory and LeGarrette Blount set to hit the market.

UPDATES: Follow here for all the latest news and free agent signings. Doug Martin has signed back with the Buccaneers. Lamar Miller has signed with the Houston Texans. Matt Forte has signed with the New York Jets.

Teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, NY Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders could throw out money at the position and that could mean some faces in new places for 2016. Forte is guaranteed to be in a new city, as the Bears told the running back that they are not planning to re-sign him in free agency this offseason.

Martin is a target for the Buccaneers to keep, but he wants to hit the open market and may not return if he gets a big pay day. Miami is planning to try and keep Miller, but he also could get a lot of money on the market and could consider leaving South Beach. Here is a look at the top names on the market:

Lamar Miller, Dolphins

Miller has the chance to be the top target on the market this offseason if Martin stays in Tampa. Either way, Miller will be a prime target for teams, as he is young and does not have much wear and tear on his body. The Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins want to keep Miller, but that they will need to clear cap space to make it happen. Miller has had 16 combined touchdowns in the past two seasons and could get a deal around $5 million per season.

Doug Martin, Bucs

Martin is looking to "cash in" on the free agent market this offseason and that deal could be from the Bucs. The team has a ton of cap space and Martin is coming off of a strong season where he ranked second in the league in rushing. Martin rushed for 1402 yards last year and set a career high with 4.9 yards per carry. Martin has the chance to sign the biggest deal among the free agent backs this offseason.

Matt Forte, Bears

Forte has been one of the most productive backs in football in his career and now he is moving on from the Bears. Forte is 30, but he should still have plenty of suitors on the market, including teams like the Patriots, Cowboys, Texans and Dolphins. Forte has combined to catch over 200 balls in the last three seasons and over the past four years he has rushed for at least 1000 yards three times. While Forte may not be a feature back anymore, he absolutely can contribute for a contender next season.

Chris Ivory, Jets

Ivory is reportedly not likely signing back with the Jets this offseason, as the team has other free agents they need to lock up before the running back. Ivory is coming off of a productive season that saw him rush for over 1000 yards and he should get some consideration on the open market. While Ivory may not be one of the top RBs of the group, he is the best of the "second tier" and should get a two or three year deal.

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