The NFL free agent class for 2016 has a deep group of running backs hitting the market, as players like Doug Martin, Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, Alfred Morris, Lamar Miller, Chris Johnson, Ronnie Hillman and LeGarrette Blount could be available.
The offseason should see some players change teams at the position, as there are a number of clubs that will be targeting running backs in free agency. Forte, Miller and Martin are the top players hitting the market, but Ivory and Hillman also could get some attention from teams. The Miami Dolphins are expected to try and keep Miller, but if the running back asks for too much money, there is a chance they could move on and push Jay Ajayi into a starting role.
The Chicago Bears and Matt Forte are expected to split, as the team did not engage in contract talks with Forte last year. Forte said that he would like to return to Chicago, but said to the Associated Press that there is "not much hope" for a new contract. Forte is getting past 30 and while he has been one of the best back in football during his time with the Bears, it could be time to move on. The team had Jeremy Langford play well while Forte was injured this season and that could be a factor in the decision. There is a chance the two sides could agree on a short-term or one year deal, but at this point it looks like Forte will be with another team next season.
Doug Martin had a bounce back season after two years of dealing with injuries and inconsistent play and he should be a main target on the market as well. The Bucs and Martin have reportedly started talking about a new deal already and that could keep Martin from hitting the market once free agency comes. Martin had 1402 yards and was second in the NFL this season in rushing yards after missing 15 games over the previous two seasons. Martin reportedly could command a contract worth around $25 million over four years and new head coach Dirk Koetter said that he wants to bring back Martin next season.
Lamar Miller saw his numbers dip a bit for the Miami Dolphins this past season, but he is expected to be a top target on the market at running back. Miller will be just 25 when next season starts and he does not have much wear and tear on his body. Miller was often time frustrated with his use by the Dolphins and according to James Walker at ESPN, scheme and fit will be a factor in wherever Miller signs. Adam Gase is taking over as head coach for the Dolphins and that could help with Martin potentially returning to Miami.
Alfred Morris, Chris Ivory, Ronnie Hillman and Chris Johnson also could be targets for teams, while Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch could join the market if they are released. The Patriots could be in the market for some veteran runners, while the Raiders may look at adding a backup for Latavius Murray.