Should the Atlanta Falcons sign a free agent running back?
With Tevin Coleman likely out at least a couple of weeks, the Atlanta Falcons are thin at the running back position. Should they approach a veteran free agent?
Among the free agents they could consider are Ahmad Bradshaw, Knowshon Moreno and Pierre Thomas. A player the Falcons reportedly had interest in was Montee Ball, released last month by the Denver Broncos. Nothing came of it, but with Coleman’s injury could give them something to consider.
Should the Falcons bring someone in? In a word—no. Unless Coleman’s injury turns out to be long-term, they should ride with what they have. Devonta Freeman is a talented young running back who will be able to move the football in the rookie’s absence. The Falcons have invested a lot in Coleman and Freeman, so eating away at their carries with a veteran would be counterproductive.
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Freeman will take the heavy load while Coleman is on the mend, and Terron Ward will fill in as the complementary back when called upon. Freeman can play on all three downs due to his versatility to help out in the passing game, and he’s more than capable of stepping up as the lead back for the time being.
Running backs tend to hit a wall when they reach their late twenties or early thirties, and players at this position typically lose production at an earlier age than others due to the impact they face on each carry. That’s why the Falcons have turned to youth to try and bring energy to a ground game that has struggled badly in recent years.
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When you look at the pool of free agent running backs, there are a number of familiar names. But it’s always important to be cautious in the market and ensure players are brought in for what they can offer you in the future, not what they have done in the past.
An example is Chris Johnson, recently signed by the Arizona Cardinals. Johnson was once one of the most feared running backs in the league, piling up 2,006 rushing yards at 5.6 a carry for 14 touchdowns in 2009. But his production gradually declined and hit the wall last year in New York. For the Jets, he posted just 663 yards and one score. After two games in Arizona this season, he’s averaging just 3.6 yards per carry.
The Falcons should only add a running back as a last resort to add depth, but they should avoid doing unless truly necessary. After all, these players are free agents for a reason. What does it say if all 32 teams aren’t interested? And it’s not because of a lack of need, either.
Coach Quinn is excited with the two young backs he has. Coleman is a big-play hitter and has good speed once he hits the open field. He’s flashed his potential in the limited action we’ve seen him in. Freeman brings versatility—he can be your between-the-tackles guy, but he’s also dangerous when catching the football.
Coleman’s not expected to miss much time, and the Falcons can not only survive, but thrive in the backfield even without their third round pick in the short term.