The NFL free agent class for 2016 is deep at running back with players like Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, LeGarrette Blount and Ronnie Hillman hitting the market.
There are a number of teams that likely will target the position this offseason and those names could be options for the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots. Forte and Miller are the top players hitting the market, while Martin is coming into free agency after having a great season for the Buccaneers. Players like Ivory, Hillman and Blount should get some attention on the market as well, especially with most teams wanting to use a running back rotation on offense these days.
Martin is reportedly talking with the Buccaneers about a new contract and that could keep him from hitting the market this offseason. According to the Pewter Report, the two sides have "opened negotiations" about a new contract and that could lead to a deal getting done soon. Martin is coming off of his best season since his rookie year after ranking second in the NFL with 1402 rushing yards. Martin dealt with injuries and inconsistent play in the previous two seasons, but he bounced back in a big way last year, staying healthy for all 16 games and averaging a career-best 4.9 yards per carry.
Lamar Miller is likely going to be the top target at running back in free agency this offseason based on his age and his use over the past four years. Miller has less wear and tear on his body than most backs his age and that could net him a nice contract in free agency this offseason. James Walker at ESPN writes that he thinks there is a "40 percent chance" that Miller comes back to Miami. Walker reported eaelier in the offseason that Miller is interested in coming back, but that "scheme and fit" will be important factors in where he signs.
What Miller thinks of new head coach Adam Gase and his offense could be the deciding factor in what he does. Miller was frustrated last season for his use on offense after his touches and yards decreased from 2014, but in the long run that could end up being a benefit. Miller is going to be just 25 when next season starts and he has only had over 200 carries once in his career. Expect the Cowboys to give a push to try and sign Miller, while the 49ers, Patriots and Giants also could be fits.
Matt Forte is not expected to return to the Bears and he could be a prime target for teams on the market, including the Dolphins (if Miller leaves), the Raiders, Patriots and Cowboys. Forte is great at catching the ball out of the backfield and he could be an ideal fit as a second running back option on the depth chart. Blount and Ivory also should get some attention, as they likely will not be returning to their current teams.