NFL Running Backs News, Rumors: Williams, Bradshaw, Benson

| by Alex Groberman

In an effort to keep fans up to date with all of the latest NFL free agency news and trade rumors, Opposing Views is consolidating the necessary information and talks into one place. We’ve already tackled the quarterbacks, wide receivers and cornerbacks, and now we’re turning our attention to the three most high-profile running backs available this year.

Unlike with other positions, the running back selections available this year can only be described as “weak” at best. Outside of DeAngelo Williams, rushing options in 2011 mainly range from injury prone youngsters to injury prone veterans to oft-arrested veterans. Nevertheless, here is the latest information available on the three most talked-about running backs on the market this year.

DeAngelo Williams – Despite the fact that he has missed 13 games over the past two seasons, Williams was hands-down the best available running back in this year’s class. According to the NFL Network, the Carolina Panthers beat out the Denver Broncos and New York Giants -- who were also reportedly very interested in acquiring his services -- and are going to sign Williams to five-year deal worth as much as $43 million, 21 of which is guaranteed. Even though a foot injury limited Williams to 361 yards rushing in six games last year, in the prior two years he accumulated an impressive 2,632 yards and 25 touchdowns in 29 games.

Ahmad Bradshaw – Williams opting to stay with the Panthers is good news for Bradshaw if he was looking to continue his career as a New York Giant. All along it was made clear that Williams was a target of interest for New York, but that if he wasn’t available Bradshaw would suffice. According to Newsday the Giants have asked the team’s other running back, Brandon Jacobs, to restructure his contract which would otherwise force the team to pay him $4.65 million in base salary next year. Jacobs, for what it’s worth appears open to the proposal so long as it’s “reasonable.” The same Newsday report indicated that the Giants had made an offer to Bradshaw. The only other team that has been noted as seriously interested in Bradshaw’s services was the Miami Dolphins.

Cedric Benson – Benson seemed poised for a decent payday after slowly but surely rebuilding his career and erasing the bad taste that his days as a Chicago Bear left in everyone’s mouths. All of that built-up goodwill went out the window, however, with his latest arrest which all but cemented the fact that he couldn’t be relied upon as a legitimate running back in this league. With relatively few teams in the NFL willing to take a chance on the oft-troubled Benson, ESPN is reporting that the Bengals’ decision to try to re-sign him is a pretty solid indicator that he will be back with the team next year.