The Falcons currently have three running backs under contract for the 2021 season; Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, and Tony Brooks James. I would normally stick to my guns of only drafting running backs in the third round or later and never giving one a second contract, but this free-agent class can provide value because of how many there are; with so many competing for another contract, someone is liable to be underpaid. The Falcons just have to find that one who falls through the cracks.
2021 FA running backs available
Someone is gonna flat-out not get paid.
— Ross Uglem (@RossUglem) December 28, 2020
Terry Fontenot was surely apart of the decision-making that resulted in Ingram leaving New Orleans a couple of years ago. He replaced Ingram with Latavius Murray, and it worked out. There could be a situation, though, where Fontenot sees Ingram in the same light he saw Murray. Bringing him in on a cheap one-year deal would be great for the team as Ingram is as much of a team-first guy as any in this league. He would have to be apart of a running back by committee approach.
This was the first play from scrimmage of the Ravens' record-breaking 2019 season: Mark Ingram, running over a Dolphins defender and going for 40 yards.
Told you everything you needed to know about that offense, and about Ingram.pic.twitter.com/jLYfwLCHDN
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) January 19, 2021
I don’t think Brian Gutekunst re-signs star running back Aaron Jones, but he might try to re-sign his backup. If Gutekunst doesn’t re-sign Williams — probably due to him drafting A.J. Dillion — then the Falcons should sign him. Like Tevin Coleman‘s role with Devonta Freeman, Williams is a starting-caliber back stuck behind an established starter. He is a reliable runner, receiver, and blocker; with the ability to run in multiple schemes; power, zone, iso, and RPO’s.
Boone has the homerun potential every time he gets the ball in his hands. He is a restricted free agent, but with the Vikings allocating so much money to Dalvin Cook, I doubt they bring him back. He doesn’t necessarily have the starting-caliber potential that Jamaal Williams possesses, but he would serve as a high-end rotational back. He can catch out of the backfield and runs as hard as Williams. I mean, look at all these explosive plays through the air and on the ground.
— Steve Frederick (@_SteveFrederick) August 19, 2019
Mike Boone's second big run pic.twitter.com/XvBl1RUpkE
— Arif Hasan, solstice-liker ❄️ (@ArifHasanNFL) December 29, 2019
A familiar face returning to Atlanta; Coleman will likely be one of the aforementioned running backs that get lost in the shuffle this offseason and could find himself undervalued. He can play in either a running back by committee or three-down role. However, he is aging faster than expected, especially last season, where he struggled to stay healthy. Regardless, like the other free agent targets, giving Coleman an incentivized contract to protect the team from injury is not out of the question.
This is the Earl Thomas and Jadeveon Clowney equivalent for running backs. Bell has struggled since taking the year off and signing with the Jets, then eventually the Chiefs. He hardly sees the field when the Clyde Edwards-Helaire is healthy and has clearly declined in recent years, but a new city and new coach could revive his once illustrious career. Bell’s peak is too high not to give him another chance; Kansas City is paying him pennies, and with little to no production, 2021 free agency may not be kind to former Spartan.