The Green Bay Packers have a lot of needs, like many NFL teams do at this time of year, but one thing they desperately need is a veteran running back.
With the release of James Starks, the free-agent departure of Eddie Lacy and the fact that Christine Michael is unsigned, the Packers basically have just Ty Montgomery back from last season.
There is no doubt Montgomery proved he is an NFL running back in 2016, with 77 carries for 457 yards (5.9) in the regular season and three touchdowns, along with 25 carries for 91 yards and two scores in the playoffs (3.64 YPC). But there should also be no doubt that he needs help and no, Aaron Ripkowski won’t do.
Certainly, the draft is deep at the position. And running back more than any others, lends itself to early contributors. Look at Starks, he was a sixth-round pick that ended up starting and winning a Super Bowl.
Say what you will about how well Aaron Rodgers played during that run, but without Starks, Green Bay probably doesn’t win it all. The point is, you can find a running back in the draft. But can you find two?
Between Montgomery and Ripkowski, the Packers top two returning rushers, there was a combined 111 carries last season. Obviously, the two will get more work this year, but adding just a rookie or two to that mix seems a little dangerous.
Besides, how much would it really hurt to take a chance on a guy like Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles? Both players were cut by their former teams and therefore, wouldn’t count against the Packers in terms of compensatory pics.
Both players are aging and coming off injury-riddled seasons, but both would come in playing second fiddle to Montgomery, who is the starter until he or someone else proves otherwise. Even bringing back Starks, if he is healthy, for the veteran minimum isn’t a horrible idea or heck even Michael. At least it would be another legit competitor.
A veteran running back isn’t going to cost much and the Packers have more than enough cap space to get a deal done. Adding a guy like Charles or Peterson simply makes too much sense.
Sure, Green Bay would still add a back in the draft, but maybe it would allow the Packers to spend another early-round selection addressing the defense or finding a starting guard.
With Thompson, it’s probably wishful thinking. But with so much uncertainty, signing one veteran running back seems like a smart thing to do.
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