The New England Patriots need to improve the running back position, but limited draft capital could prevent the team from best executing a plan through the draft. There are a handful of top tier running backs on the market, like the Dolphins Lamar Miller and the Buccaneers Doug Martin, but the Patriots have never been known to shell out money at the position.
So when we look at possible running backs, we have to look at those who succeeded in limited opportunities, and those that could thrive when given the chance.
Here's a short list.
6. Texans RB Chris Polk; 26 years old. Polk has never really received an opportunity to thrive after bouncing between franchises with established running backs in LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster. Of course, Foster was injured and Polk was unable to step up. He would be available for a minimum value contract with upside potential.
5. Washington RB Alfred Morris; 27 years old. Morris declined in production in every season and could very well be the product of a Shanahan rushing attack. But at the right price, he is a capable one cut runner that the Patriots could utilize to grind out the clock.
4. Packers RB James Starks; 30 years old. Starks is the perfect complement back, capable at running, catching, and blocking. While he's never been asked to be the guy, he's shown an ability to shoulder the load when needed. He's playing second-fiddle to Eddie Lacy and could possible fill a more-involved role in New England. Likely available for a $2 million per year deal.
3. Bears RB Matt Forte; 30 years old. Forte still has some gas in the tank and depreciated markets for running backs likely cap his potential earnings at $4 million per year (just like Frank Gore last season). Forte is great out of the backfield and he's a capable runner, but he's never been the best at blocking. He could be a great weapon for quarterback Tom Brady.
2. Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount; 29 years old. Likely available for near the minimum, Blount is familiar with the system and the coaches know what he provides. He played as well as could be expected in 2015, when he was stuck behind the worst offensive line of the Bill Belichick era.
1. Jets RB Chris Ivory; 28 years old. He's my poster child for Patriots won't pay, but wouldn't it be amazing? Ivory is the perfect fit for the Patriots and Bill Belichick has openly gushed about his ability. The price won't be right, but the player is perfect.