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New Orleans Saints offseason preview: Running Back

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The Saints talented backfield faces a few tough offseason questions.

New Orleans Saints v Tennessee Titans Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

One year after finishing with a top-10 rushing attack, the New Orleans Saints would finish 16th in the league in rushing in 2019. Mark Ingram departed last offseason in free agency and New Orleans would struggle to control the ball on the ground at times this season. The Saints still have one of the more talented backfields in the NFL though. One that helped them possess one of the league's best offenses.

RUNNING BACK

Free Agents: Zach Line (retired), Dwayne Washington

Under Contract: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Ricky Ortiz (FB)

Alvin Kamara finished his third NFL season by once again leading the team with 797 rushing yards. That was down from his 2018 rushing output, but he did miss two games and a portion of another with knee and ankle injuries. Kamara's 81 receptions matched his career high from each of his first two seasons. He managed just 533 yards receiving though, compared to 826 and 709 in his first two campaigns. Kamara scored just six touchdowns, well below his 18 scores in 2018. He remains a focus of the New Orleans offense, but Kamara was not as dynamic in the open field as he had been over his first two seasons. With a contract that expires after the upcoming year, there is some speculation currently surrounding the talented and versatile back as to whether the team will try to get a deal done this offseason or even if Kamara might elect to hold out for a new contract.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Six-year veteran Latavius Murray completed his first season in New Orleans with 637 rushing yards and tied for the team lead with 5 rushing touchdowns. The 30-Yr old Murray added 34 receptions for another 235 yards and a score through the air. Despite his upright running style, the 6'3 230-Lb Murray provided good power between the tackles and nice burst in the open field. He was underused in the Saints offense this season, but did have two 100-Yd rushing games during Kamara's absence and should play a bigger role in 2020.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Four year vet Dwayne Washington sees little action on the offensive side but is a solid special teams contributor. The 25-Yr old Washington has 214 rushing yards in two seasons with New Orleans and will be an unrestricted free agent. A bigger issue the team must address will be replacing retired fullback Zach Line. The 29-Yr old back was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent but announced that he was stepping away from the game after 7 seasons. Ricky Ortiz stepped in for Line late in the year when he was injured, but don't be surprised if the Saints bring in a free agent this offseason. New Orleans is one of just a handful of teams that still utilizes a fullback regularly.

NFL: NOV 03 Vikings at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Restricted free agent fullback C.J. Ham of the Minnesota Vikings would be a good fit for this offense. The 26-Yr old Ham made the Pro Bowl this past season and is an underrated receiver out of the backfield along with being a punishing blocker for Minnesota's run game. Unrestricted free agent Derek Watt from the Chargers could be a cheaper option at the position.

Head coach Sean Payton has always been able to find solid contributors at running back in the late rounds of the draft or even undrafted talents. Kamara and Murray are a productive 1-2 punch, so it would be a surprise if the Saints were to give high priority to this position in the offseason.

Poll

How should the Saints address the running back position this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    High priority free agent
    (29 votes)
  • 27%
    Low priority free agent
    (108 votes)
  • 7%
    Day 1 or 2 draft pick
    (29 votes)
  • 57%
    Day 3 draft pick or undrafted rookie
    (222 votes)
388 votes total Vote Now