All four teams made roster moves with their running backs, and I think I like what each team did. A rare occasion when everyone gets love. Let’s just get right to it:
Cowboys – Cut Marion Barber.
This was really a no-brainer. Barber was a monumental disappointment after signing him to a massive deal after the 2007 season. Bad production + high salary = cut. The Cowboys drafted DeMarco Murray in the 3rd round to replace Barber. It’s your year, Felix. Let’s see what you got.
Eagles – Signed Ronnie Brown.
Really nice fit for the Eagles. Big back at 6’0, 230, that can run, catch, block, and be utilized in the Wildcat, which the Eagles like to mess around with from time to time. Brown reportedly had several offers that would have paid him more money than what the Eagles offered, but he wanted to play in Philly, and signed a very low 1 year, $1 million contract. Consider that Marion Barber signed a 2 year deal with the Bears worth $5 million, and Brown’s deal is an absolute steal.
Brown is known partly for his durability issues, although I was somewhat surprised to see that he has played in 76 of a possible 96 games (just shy of 80%) as a pro. If he can stay healthy, he’s a great backup option to LeSean McCoy. The Eagles also drafted Dion Lewis out of Pitt in the 5th round, and can now take their time letting him develop.
Giants – Re-signed Ahmad Bradshaw, got Brandon Jacobs to take a pay cut.
A couple months ago, I suggested that the Giants should try to trade Brandon Jacobs if he wouldn’t take a pay cut, and if no suitors were interested in trading, to simply cut him. Surprisingly, Jacobs was willing to take the cut in pay. Well done, G Men.
I also really liked what they did with Ahmad Bradshaw’s contract situation. I never thought Ahmad Bradshaw was worth bigtime dollars. Nice back, runs hard, has some speed and shiftiness, decent receiver, hard worker as a pass blocker, but we’re not talking about a true “feature guy” here. Opposing teams are never going to gameplan to specifically stop Ahmad Bradshaw. Add in that he has a history of injuries below the waist, and it’s a concern. A lot of players can lose a step and still be effective in the NFL. With Bradshaw’s diminutive size, if he loses a step, he’s not going to be effective at this level. And then there’s the fumbles. The Giants let him go out and shop, and there was even that “holy crap” moment when DeAngelo Williams signed a 5 year $43 million contract to stay in Carolina, and Bradshaw was engaged in discussions with Miami. But the Giants waited Bradshaw out, and Miami instead traded for Reggie Bush. A few days passed and Bradshaw ultimately settled for a reasonable 4 year $18 million deal.
Good job G Men.
Redskins – Traded for Tim Hightower.
This is a deal I really liked. The Redskins gave up basically nothing for Hightower by trading 35 year old DE Vonnie Holliday and a conditional late round pick in 2012. Tim Hightower can play. He had 63 receptions in 2009. Somehow he ran for 4.8 yards per carry on that awful Cardinals offense last season. He’s good around the goal line, good receiver, very versatile. A concern would be his fumbles – He’s had 10 over the last two seasons on just 380 touches (that’s a fumble per every 38 touches – not good). But this was a great trade if Hightower can fix that.
I kinda like the Redskins’ backs. I really do. Ryan Torain is a nice young back, add in the versatile Hightower, and let your two rookies (Roy Helu and Evan Royster) develop. I read somewhere that there was some hand-wringing that the Eagles’ backups at QB and RB are Vince Young and Ronnie Brown, while the Redskins are going into the season with John Beck and Ryan Torain. I agree that the Beck thing is nuts, but so what about the running backs? A guy like Ronnie Brown would make no sense whatsoever for the Skins. The Redskins shouldn’t be concerned with winning a Super Bowl this season. It’s not happening. I like these little moves the Redskins are making to get younger, and hopefully for them, better in the long term. More on the Skins’ good offseason coming up soon.