With free agency set to begin March 5, ESPNBoston.com will look at the "free-agent fit" at each position over the next two weeks, while projecting possibilities for the Patriots. Today, it’s running backs:
RATING THE NEED: Moderate
CURRENT PERSONNEL: Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
KEY CONSIDERATION: Kevin Faulk is an unrestricted free agent and he played more snaps than any running back in 2009. If he does not return, which would be a surprise, the need increases for a “passing” type of back.
NOTABLE TARGETS ON MARKET: Mike Bell (Saints, restricted), Ronnie Brown (Dolphins, restricted), Willie Parker (Steelers, unrestricted), Darren Sproles (Chargers, unrestricted*), Chester Taylor (Vikings, unrestricted), Pierre Thomas (Saints, restricted), LenDale White (Titans, restricted), Cadillac Williams (Buccaneers, retsirtced)
MOST LIKELY TARGETS FOR PATS: Kevin Faulk (Patriots, unrestricted), Leon Washington (Jets, restricted)
SLEEPER POSSIBILITY FOR PATS: Darren Sproles
OUTLANDISH THOUGHT FOR PATS: Ronnie Brown
WRAP IT UP: One of the buzzwords surrounding the offense this offseason is adding more playmakers and Sproles would be an intriguing possibility. Taylor could be a desired target around the NFL, but given the makeup of the running back corps, it’s hard to imagine the Patriots adding another 30-year-old. Washington has always been a tough matchup, but he’s coming off a serious injury and will probably be tendered at the second-round level.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?: Which of these running backs would you most like to see in a Patriots uniform? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.
* projects not to receive a tender as a restricted free agent