Something's Gotta Give in the Packers Backfield
We’re on record as saying we have no idea what’s going to happen with the Packers backfield. But more and more, the evidence seems to be pointing to something, whatever it is, breaking loose this offseason.
Here are three reasons we think so.
The Packers are considered the odds on favorites to land two high end free agent running backs
How they arrived at that conclusion remains a mystery, and it’s unlikely that there’s any sort of inside information leading them to that particular take, but it’s definitely unusual that the Packers would be considered such serious contenders for these two backs.
Murray isn’t an overwhelmingly good fit for the Packers, and Peterson beats his kid and can’t catch or pass block or run from shotgun. Yet the Packers are considered a leading suitor for both? That’s unusual, and it’s worth wondering why.
There may be more to the Eddie Lacy situation than we know
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Vic Tafur says he wouldn’t be surprised if Oakland was in play for Eddie Lacy.
Depending on the price tag, it would be a little surprising to see Lacy leave the Packers, especially since he has been quite productive when healthy over the past two seasons, weight notwithstanding.
However, it’s possible that behind the scenes, the Packers are more fed up with Lacy than we’ve been led to believe.
After Lacy’s season-ending ankle injury against the Cowboys, ESPN reported the running back had regained the weight he lost prior to the start of the season before he was placed on injured reserve on October 20th.
Once the season ended, Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported that Lacy had regained the weight by the start of the regular season and not after his ankle injury. All told, Lacy’s offseason weight loss did not last through the 2016 season.
Mike McCarthy reportedly fined Lacy repeatedly for failing to make weight, and it’s certainly not impossible that the Packers are just sick of dealing with a player who won’t get in shape.
If Lacy couldn’t bring it upon himself to do that in a contract year with millions of dollars at stake, the Packers would be well within their rights to be frustrated.
There are tons of running backs available in the draft
While the Packers certainly shouldn’t be thinking running back in the first round, this is considered an abnormally deep draft at running back. Depending on who you ask, a quality player could be had all the way down to the fourth or fifth round.
Perhaps the Packers will eschew free agency all together, even re-signing their own players, and bank on finding running back depth in the draft.
ESPN Insider and Scouts Inc. list five running backs from this draft class in the top 50 prospects, a significant increase over the past five years:
- 2017: Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, D’Onta Foreman
- 2016: Ezekiel Elliott
- 2015: Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Ameer Abdullah
- 2014: Carlos Hyde, Bishop Sankey
- 2013: Eddie Lacy
- 2012: Trent Richardson, Doug Martin
Over the past five years, it’s been rare to see so many running backs chosen in the first 50 selections of the draft. Here’s how it’s broken down over that time:
- 2016: Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry
- 2015: Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, T.J. Yeldon
- 2014: None
- 2013: Giovani Bernard, Le’Veon Bell
- 2012: Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, David Wilson, Isaiah Pead
All told, it’s unlikely all five of the premium running backs are off the board by the time the draft is through its first two rounds.
Because of that, second-tier prospects like Clemson’s Wayne Gallman, Wisconsin’s Corey Clement, Pittsburgh’s James Conner, and Toledo’s Kareem Hunt will be drafted later than their value suggests.
No matter where the Packers decide to go at running back, something has to happen. With free agency starting March 9, we’ll soon have a much better idea what the plan actually is.