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Who's Out There? Running Backs

Posted Mar 7, 2014

The Ravens want to add another offensive compliment in the backfield.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens will add at least one running back to their roster for the 2014 season. He could be big, small, powerful or explosive.

Either way, another running back or two will add more depth to new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak’s run-based unit and also bring more diversification.

The Ravens could look to the draft to bolster the unit, but here are some of the free agent options:

Ben Tate, Houston Texans
Unrestricted (4th season); 25 years old; 5-foot-11, 217 pounds
2013 Stats: 181 carries, 771 yards, 4 touchdowns; 34 receptions, 140 yards
If Kubiak wants a running back that fits his system, why not get one that ran in it for three years? Tate had a breakout season last year when Arian Foster was out with an injury. He even played through cracked ribs for the majority of the year. Tate is a powerful zone runner. He may command a strong payday on the open market, however, because of his talent and age.

LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
Unrestricted (5th season); 27; 6-0, 250
2013 Stats: 153 carries, 772 yards, 7 touchdowns; 2 receptions, 38 yards
The Ravens noticed the punch Blount gave the Patriots offense in the second half of the year. Blount became their lead runner and put up a monster 166-yard, four-touchdown game in the playoffs. Blount is one of the strongest runners in the league, and would be a valuable goal-line and short-yardage option in Baltimore. He’s a different type of back than Baltimore has on the roster.

Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers
Unrestricted (5th season); 24; 5-11, 229
2013 Stats: 49 carries, 197 yards; 8 receptions, 64 yards
Dwyer seemed to be breaking out in 2012, rushing for 623 yards and two touchdowns. But the Steelers turned to rookie Le’Veon Bell this season, passing over Dwyer. Dwyer is another big-bodied runner who is difficult to bring down. The Georgia Tech product isn’t much of a weapon in the passing game, but would add another element to the Ravens roster.

Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns
Unrestricted (12th season); 32; 6-0, 235
2013 Stats: 138 carries, 377 yards, 2 touchdowns; 8 receptions, 20 yards
McGahee was the least effective running back in the league last year, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry. That’s just below Bernard Pierce (2.9) and Ray Rice (3.1). The Ravens know McGahee well, considering he played in Baltimore for four seasons. He’s a strong pass blocker and could still be of use as a strong, veteran runner.

Anthony Dixon, San Francisco 49ers
Unrestricted (5th season); 26; 6-1, 233
2013 Stats: 28 carries, 56 yards, 2 touchdowns
Dixon is by no means a starting running back. But he’s effective around the goal line and in short-yardage situations. Dixon knows how to play hard-nosed football being under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh for the past three years. He could also help play a bit of the fullback role if needed, along with second-year player Kyle Juszczyk as Vonta Leach was released.

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