The Redskins overall offense was a disappointment from a year ago. A mixture of an injury riddled offensive line and under performance by the wide receiving core were major factors. However, the more disturbing aspect of the Redskins offense that should have improved was the running game.
Rob Kelley was okay, and so was Samaje Perine. Chris Thompson was having a Pro Bowl caliber season until he broke his leg in New Orleans. But, there was no running back that got consistent playing time that really wowed anyone. Yes, by the end of the year, the Redskins had used seven different running backs. But, the running game is still lacking a game changing player.
The free agents that are available is extremely limited and it is likely the Redskins could draft one in the middle rounds from what has been deemed a deep class. But, here are the top three running backs the Redskins could go after to improve their offense.
It is highly unlikely that the Redskins will be able to sign Bell, but it is fun to at least think it could happen. Bell has been arguably the best running back in the NFL since he came into the league. He has a history of knee injuries, but still finds a way to get within shouting distance of 1,000 yards rushing and 2,000 total yards. A running back like Bell with Cousins at quarterback could be an offense that puts the Redskins in the playoffs.
However, there is the issue of needing to stay under the cap and being able to field a competitive defense let alone team. Bell made just over $12 million last year under the franchise tag and will be looking for a long-term deal. Spotrac has Bell’s market value contract at 5 years $53.5 million dollars. Should the Redskins decide to go after him, they would have to decide not to re-sign Brown and hope that they hit on every pick in the draft. Again, unlikely the Redskins will sign Bell, but it is something fun to think about.
With the establishment of Matt Breida at the end of the year, it makes it more likely the 49ers could decide not to bring Hyde back. What the Redskins would get, should they sign him is a back that had 940 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns and almost 1300 all-purpose yards.
Hyde is 26 years old going into the offseason and coming off his most impressive performance as a professional. He is known in the past couple of years to have a nagging injury that could sideline him for a game or two. However, with Perine and Thompson still on the roster, Hyde would be an optimal addition to a Jay Gruden offense. Spotrac has Hyde’s projected market value at 4 years $23.2 million. This would come out to $5.8 million per year and a more manageable cap hit than Bell.
Hue Jackson stated before the 2017 season that Crowell was not used enough in 2016. But, the Browns being the Brown, Crowell still underachieved from what he is capable of. Crowell finished the season with 853 rushing yards and just over 1,000 all purpose yards. He has proven that he can be durable for an entire season and make game breaking runs. The Browns have a ton of cap space going into the 2018 offseason and may choose to overpay Isaiah to keep him on a roster that is in desperate need of a quarterback.
Should the Browns choose not to re-sign Crowell, the Redskins should be able to sign the 25-year-old to relatively the same contract as Carlos Hyde. Crowell can play all three downs if need be and could be a great locker room presence for Perine as he learns to develop his game.