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Breaking Down The Jets: The Running Backs

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We're moving on to a group who may be asked to carry a significant load for the Jets this season.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

We quickly move on to the 2nd position group we're going to focus on and today that group is the running backs. A very talented group who will be asked to provide a lot of the Jets offense in 2015. Last week we focused in on the Quarterbacks and if you missed that feature, you can read it right HERE.

Current Depth Chart

Chris Ivory

Bilal Powell

Stevan Ridley

Zac Stacy

Daryl Richardson

Over the off-season the Jets brought in a couple of new faces with Stevan Ridley joining through free agency and Zac Stacy arriving via a draft day trade. We re-signed Powell to a one year $2 million contract  and he is the best 3rd down back on the roster. However the Jets may be presented with a little bit of a problem where they have 4 very capable rushers, then do they stick to the standard roster composition and work with three, cutting one? Or do they carry 4 runners to start the season. The running back position is one of those positions where injuries can pile up quickly. These guys are running through (or at least trying to) 300lb guys, only to be met at the second level by 250lb guys who want to knock them into next week, having that insurance probably isn't a bad idea.

Chris Ivory is the Jets main running back but he has yet to eclipse 1000 yards in a season throughout his entire 5 year carer, although it's only in the last two years he's had a chance to start. With only 636 carries to his name in the NFL, there is still a lot of tread on the tires and although he's a powerful back, I don't imagine he'll see that 1,000 mark this year with the talent we have at the position and having to split reps.

Stevan Ridley is currently rehabbing a serious injury, but when given the opportunity to lead the attack in New England in 2012, he recorded 1,263 yards with 12 touchdowns, quite the return for Ridley who's battled with injuries over the last couple of years.

Stacy had a horrible year in 2014 recording only 293 yards while starting only 5 games. However in 2013 when he saw the bulk of the carries for St Louis, he notched up 973 yards and 7 touchdowns. All three of the running backs mentioned already are power backs, who like to run through tackles. None of them offer much of anything in the receiving game.

Bilal Powell had a disappointing year last year along with every other Jets player. However in 2013 he showed his 3rd down capability by becoming a reliable blocker and receiver, totalling 36 catches for 272 yards, strangely enough, he's never caught a touchdown pass in his entire career with the Jets.

Daryl Richardson hasn't really been given an opportunity and did't record any statistics last season, however his rookie year with St Louis (2012) he did record 24 receptions for 163 yards as well as rushing for 475 yards at 4.8 yards a click, which is quite impressive.

The Salary Situation

Year Chris Ivory Bilal Powell Stevan Ridley Zac Stacy Daryl Richardson
2015 $2,750,000 $2,000,000 $1,031,250 $585,000 $585,000
2016 $675,000

As with the quarterbacks we don't have much money tied up to the running backs past 2015. The only player we have signed through 2016 is Zac Stacy, so if he gets cut we won't have a single running back on the books for next year. I'm not too sad about that, I like Ivory and I like Powell, but they need to prove their worth this year to get their contracts, the same can be said with Ridley and Stacy.

Possible Storylines

Stevan Ridley's recovery from his injury will be a key storyline that we'll follow closely through training camp. He recently said he doesn't want anyones expectations to get out of hand. However with a fierce competition at the position, he won't want to miss too much time. However you can't come back until the medical staff say so.

Will anyone else step up on 3rd down aside from Powell. I mean Powell isn't an elite receiver by any stretch of the imagination but he's head and shoulder above everyone else on this roster. Can Stacy show off the hands to make him stick on the roster?

How are they going to divide the carries. Will Todd Bowles continue with his two field strategy to get as many people touching the football as possible and if so which guy runs with the ones, the twos and the threes and how often.

Projected Depth Chart

Chris Ivory

Stevan Ridley

Bilal Powell

Zac Stacy

Cut - Daryl Richardson

I don't know why, I just think the Jets will go with 4 running backs to start the season. They all have talent, they have all shown their worth in the NFL and with Ridley coming off a serious injury, I don't think they'll want to let Stacy go too early. I don't think we'll maintain a 4 man running back rotation for the entire season but if the Jets split camp with four guys, I wouldn't be surprised. Unfortunately they can't carry 5 and Richardson is odds on to be the man cut. However he has talent, so now is the time to shine, maybe he surprises us all.

The Future

We touched on this with the salary situation but the cupboard is bare for the Jets next season. Stacy is the only player signed through 2016. If Ivory continues to improve then I can see him getting a new deal, and if Ridley proves he's back to his 2012 best, then he'll get a new deal as well. Powell may not want to continue playing on one year contracts but as a 3rd down option, the Jets may continue to offer him one.

The Free Agents

Matt Forte (29)

Reggie Bush (30)

Fred Jackson (34)

Doug Martin (26)

Lamar Miller (24)

Alfred Morris (26)

Matt Asiata (27)

C.J Anderson (24)

There are a number of free agent running backs on the market in 2016. You have to imagine that Chicago will want to keep Forte, Denver will want to keep C.J and Washington would want to keep Morris. Whether they can get the deals done is another question. I've always been a big fan of Jackson but he'll be 35 and well he'll be 35. Reggie Bush has always been an option I've considered but he gets injured just lacing his cleats. Lamar Miller is coming off a 1,000 yard season and I'd say he's placed to do the same again this year, which means the Dolphins will want to keep him and they certainly won't want to lose him to the Jets.

A lot of interesting options, but it's way too early to figure out who will be available come March 2016.