One story in a series of free agents by position and which ones may warrant teams pursuing. Today – a look at running backs:
James Allen, Houston (unrestricted): He’s good at picking up blitzes and set career highs in receptions (47) and yards (302). Allen would be a nice pickup if you’re looking for depth but not enough of a big play man to warrant a starting job.
Shawn Bryson, Buffalo (unrestricted): Saw limited duty behind Travis Henry but could be a sound pickup for depth purposes.
Mike Cloud, Kansas City (unrestricted): He has not lived up to expectations but is a decent backup.
Olandis Gary, Denver (unrestricted): His production has slipped since topping 1,000 yards in 1999. The Broncos appear to have found the heir apparent to the retired Terrell Davis in Clinton Portis. Gary can still be an effective starter if healthy but that’s the biggest problem.
Dorsey Levens, Philadelphia (unrestricted): Like Gary, Levens’ production has slipped since topping 1,000 yards in 1999. Levens, however, can still be asset if used right. He may lack the big play ability but is a versatile and productive backup.
Stacey Mack, Jacksonville (unrestricted): With Fred Taylor being at less than full strength the last couple years, Mack has shined when given the opportunity. He’s a powerful back who has the ability to move the sticks.
Emmitt Smith, Dallas: He’s not a free agent in the traditional sense but the Cowboys still may part ways with Smith, who did not gain 1,000 yards rushing for the first time since 1990. The question: Is it a case of Smith’s ability declining or the talent around him declining? A little of both. Smith can still be productive but is not able to create on his own.
Tyrone Wheatley, Oakland (unrestricted): He has not performed like the 17th overall pick in the 1995 draft but could be a good change of pace. Wheatley is power back that can gain yardage between the tackles.
Moe Williams, Minnesota (unrestricted): Not an every down back but excels at hammering between the tackles. He has a nose for the goal line after having scored 11 touchdowns. Williams is a backup that can supply versatility.
Vince D’Adamo can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org