30 Year Old Running Backs FOR SALE—CHEAP!
By Bill Smith
I have found the perfect back—I’ll use my first pick for;
He fast, can catch, and best of all 240 and 6-4.
He’ll blast the line, catch the pass and run like a gazelle;
I’ll cut him when he’s 30 if there’s nothing something left to sell.
By B. Smith 2009
No position in the NFL gets old faster than a running back. History shows that the production of even an above average RB falls off a cliff like a lemming after the back turns 30. The problems are the 30+ back is too old, too slow, too expensive and too fragile. Several teams will have to make some difficult choices about their 30 something RBs this year.
The biggest name on this list is Tomlinson. He turns 30 in late June and in the last couple of years has spent almost as much time on the bench with injuries as he has on the field. Those that drafted LT with the first pick in their Fantasy league were repeatedly frustrated by his lack of production last year.
The problem was made even more critical because the Chargers allowed his backup, Michael “the burner” Turner, to leave via free agency during the last off season. All Turner did was run for almost 1700 yards with a 4.5 yard average. Tomlinson limped through 16 games but only reached 100 yards once.
The Chargers have only mini-back free agent to be Darren Sproles and last year rookie Jacob Hester behind LT. While Sproles has proven he can be a great change of pace back, he will never survive a 250 carry season. Hester was a high draft choice last year and is a potential 1 back in the Chargers offense. But he has yet to prove he can handle the majority of the work in the NFL.
The question that is keeping Charger front office staff from sleeping is should they trade LT and if they do what could they get. According to reports, he has 2 years left on his contract.
My Advice: There will be some team that suffers an RB loss in free agency or in training camp. Put feelers out and get what you can. Hester can do the job if he gets the chance. Grab the draft choice (probably a mid 2nd round) and run.
Larry Johnson Chiefs:
Johnson does not have as much mileage on him as LT but he too has hit the less than magic age of 30. Johnson did not get much work in the early years of his career. He was buried in the depth chart. With a new GM and coach, the team is in the rebuilding mode and LJ want no part of it. He wants to be traded. Last year LJ missed all or part of 7 games and only ran for 874 yards. The Chiefs have second year back Kolby Smith and last year rookie Jamaal Charles from Texas. Neither have much experience and if LJ is gone, a new back will have to come from free agency or the draft.
My Advice: Johnson has had a number of off the field problems and has gotten the reputation of a prima donna. Try to trade him and take what you can get. He has been a big enough problem in the locker room when the team was doing fairly well. Now is the time. If you can’t trade him, cut him and take the cap hit.
Edgerrin James Cards:
The Cards have a lot of issues on their plate and one of them is Edge. James’ production and yards per attempt fell off and he got benched. While he played a little better in the post season, he is history. He will be traded or cut because the team has his replacement in Tim Hightower. Hightower has more speed and that is good. The question still remains is can he pass protect like James? That is doubtful and if you have a 38 year old Kurt Warner as QB, you might want to give him James blocking.
My Advice: Keep James if he is willing to share the ball. If not, let him go and catch on with another team.
Jamal Lewis Browns:
Lewis will turn 30 before next season. The new head coach of the Browns Eric Mangini said yesterday that he was “impressed” with several players including Lewis. Right now the Browns have nothing behind Lewis.
My Advice: I like how hard Lewis runs. Just don’t give Lewis a long term deal but draft a replacement in the 3rd or 4th round or pick up a younger back in free agency.
Brian Westbrook Eagles:
The injuries to Westbrook this year proved that the O dies when he is out of the lineup. BW turns 30 in September and has already more mileage on him than a 1953 Buick. The Eagles have a few backups but none of them have the versatility of Westbrook. No back in the NFL does.
My Advice: Frankly, the Eagles have no choice but to ride BW as far as they can. Draft a couple of WRs early and a stud RB in 2010 if there is a draft.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]
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