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NFL casts off older running backs

2/16/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

  Taylor Pete Prisco of cbssports.com thinks the Jaguars are making a mistake by releasing 33-year-old running back Fred Taylor. He thinks Taylor would fit perfectly with the Colts or Cardinals because both teams throw the ball to set up the run.

Edgerrin James might get a chuckle from the idea. He left the Colts for the Cardinals and he'll almost certainly be leaving the Cardinals this offseason. James and Taylor were both scheduled to earn $5 million salaries in 2009.

Even if Taylor isn't finished, the Cardinals might have a hard time justifying getting older at running back.

Some of these older, established backs are also realizing that the NFL has changed. I do think James has more left to give. Taylor probably does as well, although I have not seen him as much. But teams are dividing significant carries among multiple backs. Smart teams will not enter the 2009 season with Taylor, James or another older back as the only starting-caliber option.

The league discards older backs routinely. Ricky Watters couldn't get what he considered starting-caliber money after Seattle replaced him with Shaun Alexander. Watters retired. And when the Seahawks decided Alexander was finished, the rest of the league agreed.