Just in case you missed the action from training camp yesterday, we learned that the Saints are currently looking to sign a veteran running back. Coach Payton confirmed what we already assumed when he addressed the media after practice. And by the way, I would just like to thank Coach Payton for actually giving us an honest response to a legitimate question instead of offering his usual furtive non-answer.
We're currently looking. It's not something that we've decided that we're going to wait on but the question is can we find the right player and do we have to wait if we can't. We're looking right now so I wouldn't say we're staying pat, we just haven't signed anyone in the last two days. Hopefully we're able to get someone in here that we have a high enough grade on...We'll see, but I'd anticipate that we'll be able to get someone in here before the Texans game.
So now that we know the Saints are in the process of finding a veteran running back to offset the loss of Lynell Hamilton due to injury, the question obviously becomes: Which running back will they pick?
Some are speculating that the team may wait for the league-wide roster cut-downs to pick up the loser of another teams running back battle i.e. New England. But that timeline doesn't fit with Payton's anticipation of getting a player into training camp this week before the Texans game. The pool of worthwhile running backs still available is shallow and with other teams like the 49ers and Texans also in the market thanks to injury and early retirement, it seems the Saints may feel a sense of urgency.
The fax machine is warming up and something is going to happen soon in the running back signing department. So I did a little research to find out just who is still available out there in the ever changing free agent market. Using NFL.com's outdated free agency tracker as my starting point, I compiled a list of running backs with no homes and then crossed off players that have since signed with teams. After the jump you'll find a breakdown of remaining available running backs and the team they last played for. This isn't an official list of every possible player available at the position but it includes the most noteworthy and probably includes whatever player the Saints will wind up signing.
Ladell Betts - Washington Redskins - This is probably the most likely possibility given that Betts was just in town two weeks ago for a quick look. He also met with the Denver Broncos but it seems they've decided to go with LenDale White and Justin Fargas instead. Betts has played his entire career with the Redskins but hasn't come close to putting together a season like his 2006 effort.
Jamal Lewis - Cleveland Browns - Although he stated that he is retiring from football, Lewis was just in New Orleans for a visit this April making his signing by the Saints a real possibility. Like all of the running backs on this list, Lewis is very prone to injury but being the third player in the Saints RB rotation would mean limited snaps would help keep him fresh throughout the long season.
Brian Westbrook - Philadelphia Eagles - This would be an amazing addition. Westbrook's health is an obvious concern but he's a great player with a great attitude. Unfortunately I really don't see it happening. He's probably a bigger name than the Saints are really willing to pay for. Also, it's already been reported that he will be signing with the St. Louis Rams today.
Kolby Smith - Denver Broncos - With all the running back signings happening in Denver, someone had to lose their job. Unfortunately for Kolby Smith, he was that player. He may not be the best option for the Saints but he's certainly a serviceable one.
Kevin Jones - Chicago Bears - He is younger than some of the other veterans on this list but Jones is injury prone like nobody's business, getting placed on IR last season in September with an ankle injury. He's got the talent, just not the durability.
DeShawn Wynn - Green Bay Packers - Coming off a knee injury that landed him on IR last October, Wynn is 26 years old and still got a few years left. The Bengals and Giants both showed interest in him this April. If his knee recovers, he could make a nice addition.
Aaron Stecker - Atlanta Falcons - Stecker decided to hang up the cleats this off-season but perhaps the chance to return to his former team is just the right situation to entice him back onto the football field. It couldn't turn out any worse than Dan Morgan's decisions, right?
LaMont Jordan - Denver Broncos - Nobody has really shown interest in Jordan since he was released from the Broncos is February.
Ahman Green - Green Bay Packers - Recently signed by the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks, I think his NFL career is finished.
Samkon Gado - St. Louis Rams