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2010 Free Agency Rankings: RB And FB

The running back position just got a lot more interesting for the Eagles with the impending release of Brian Westbrook. If the Eagles want to improve the depth behind second-year man LeSean McCoy, free agency might be the route to go. But exactly who is going to be available? And with the Collective Bargaining Agreement or lack of one, who is going to be available that's actually an unrestricted free agent? Here's a look at the top running backs about to hit the market as well as the top five fullbacks headlined by an All-Pro the Eagles know quite well.

1. Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins (RFA)
Only played in nine games in 2009, but still ran for 648 yards and eight touchdowns. Might be best known to some fans as the man who runs Miami's Wildcat offense. Brown is an outstanding running back. He is 230 pounds, but still has enough speed to go the distance if he gets a crease. He is a restricted free agent and will be a priority re-signing for the Dolphins.

2. Darren Sproles, San Diego Chargers (RFA)
Reports indicate that the Chargers have decided not to tender Sproles, meaning that can sign with anyone come March 5. Until that's official, he's still a restricted free agent-to-be. This is an odd move, but Sproles is an odd player. He is explosive and can turn any play into a touchdown. At the same time, he isn't meant to be a workhorse player. He is best suited to get some carries, but also to catch passes, return kickoffs and return punts. How do you pay that player? He's not an elite running back. He's also more than just a role player. Sproles could be a great fit for some team that needs a boost on offense and special teams, but not a feature back.

3. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (RFA)
Who? That may be the reaction of some, but the former undrafted player has developed into a good running back. Thomas is 5-11 and 215 pounds. That's ideal size for a back. Thomas' numbers have gotten better each season and he's in the prime of his career. He can move the chains, but also has pretty good speed. He had seven carries this year that went for 20 or more yards. He averages more than five yards per carry for his career. Thomas is an outstanding player and is still on the rise. You can bet he'll be a priority for the Saints.

4. Leon Washington, New York Jets (RFA)
Very similar to Sproles. Undersized runner who has found a niche as part of a running back rotation. Washington is also a very good kickoff returner. He was hurt for much of 2009, but the Jets absolutely want him back. They see him as a key part of the running rotation going into the future. Shonn Greene is the power runner and Washington is the explosive player and third-down back.

5. Chester Taylor, Minnesota Vikings (UFA)
Taylor ran for more than 1,200 yards when he first signed with the Vikings. Then some kid named Adrian Peterson showed up and Taylor became a role player once again. Taylor took the situation in stride and did an excellent job coming off the bench and playing on passing downs. Taylor is a good receiver and pass blocker. He will turn 31 in September, but still has tread left on the tire because he spent so much of his career as a backup to Jamal Lewis in Baltimore and Peterson. I'm sure Taylor would love a chance to start. That's not likely. He's ideally suited for being part of a rotation.

6. Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers (UFA)
From 2005-07, Parker ran for more than 1,200 yards each season. The last two years he really struggled. Injuries were a problem, but he also just seemed to be in a funk. Parker is known for his speed. He only had six runs that went for 20 or more yards in the last couple of years. I think a change of scenery will be a big help to Parker. I'm not sure that he'll ever get back to his previous level, but I do think he still has enough speed and talent to be part of a good running back rotation. A team in need of a starter could take a chance on him and might find he can still get the job done.

7. Jerious Norwood, Atlanta Falcons (RFA)
Outstanding complementary player is coming off a tough year. Only played in 10 games. Didn't have his usual burst, which is what makes him special. Norwood has a career average of 5.3 yards per carry. This year, that figure was down to 3.3 yards per carry. When healthy, Norwood is a gifted backup runner, as well as receiver and kickoff returner.

8. Carnell Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (RFA)
Cadillac actually played all 16 games this year. That's encouraging for him. Williams has never lacked talent. He's just suffered some devastating injuries. He is a physical, powerful runner. His injuries may have taken a bit of his speed, but he's no plodder. Williams is a good workhorse runner. He's underrated as a blocker and receiver. Can he stay healthy two years in a row?

9. Larry Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals (UFA)
Johnson was once an elite runner with a rare size/speed combo. That helped him to gain more than 3,600 yards in just two seasons. Since then injuries, poor blocking and off-the-field problems have really limited his production. Johnson hasn't rushed for more than 900 yards since the 2006 season. He does still have good ability. Johnson runs well for a 230-pound back. He needs the right fit if he has any hope of getting his career back on track.

10. Jerome Harrison, Cleveland Browns (RFA)
Came out of nowhere to post one of the greatest rushing performances in league history. Harrison ran for 246 in the entire 2008 season. He ran for 286 yards in a December win over Kansas City. He followed that up by running for 148 yards and 127 yards to close out the season. Harrison has good speed and excellent big play ability. He is not a primary runner. The hot streak at the end of the year was good, but Harrison doesn't have the body or skill set to be someone you hand the ball to 300 times a year. The Browns are reportedly planning to place a high tender on him.

Top Five Fullbacks
1. Leonard Weaver, Philadelphia Eagles (RFA)
Weaver is the most complete fullback in the league. He is a good blocker, good runner and very good receiver. He isn't a Lorenzo Neal type of fullback that primarily serves as a battering ram for the runner behind him. Weaver can play both running back and fullback. He has deceptively good speed. He has great hands. Weaver is an ideal fit in the West Coast Offense and is someone the Eagles want to retain.

2. Le'Ron McClain, Baltimore Ravens (RFA)
McClain is another versatile fullback. In 2008, he ran for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns. This year, he was primarily a blocker. He is a good blocker and is also a solid receiver. McClain is 260 pounds and did a good job of paving the way for Ray Rice and Willis McGahee this year.

3. Lawrence Vickers, Cleveland Browns (RFA)
Now, we have an old-school fullback that is strictly meant to block and play special teams. Vickers is a 250-pound sledgehammer who opened holes for Jamal Lewis and Jerome Harrison. He didn't run the ball once and only caught eight passes. Cleveland is reportedly going to use a high tender on him so they ensure no one tries to steal him away.

4. Naufahu Tahi, Minnesota Vikings (RFA)
Tahi is another traditional fullback that is meant strictly to be a blocker and play special teams. He can catch the occasional pass (26 over the last two seasons). Tahi goes over 250 pounds and does a good job of opening holes for Adrian Peterson.

5. Dan Kreider, Arizona Cardinals (UFA)
Kreider really is an old-school fullback in more ways than one. He turned 33 this year and that will affect his value, but true fullbacks are getting harder and harder to find. He will play for someone. Kreider is a pure blocker. He has 144 yards rushing in 138 career games. Kreider has good size at 5-11 and 250 pounds. He remains a good blocker.
-- Posted by Tommy Lawlor, 6:20 p.m., February 27

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