3 Free agent running backs the Cleveland Browns should consider

The first wave of NFL free agency is in the books. With plenty of options still on the market, here are three free-agent running backs the Browns should kick the tires on.

D'Onta Foreman
D'Onta Foreman / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

The Cleveland Browns spent the first wave of NFL free agency shoring up some potential holes for the 2024 season. The vast majority of their free agent signings have been focused on the defensive side of the ball. However, there is one remaining area that should be addressed before the NFL draft, the running back room.

For all the firepower that the Browns possess on the offensive side of the ball, a large question mark looms over the 2024 season…well, other than the level of quarterback play. Nick Chubb is presumed to be returning from a devastating knee injury that required two separate surgeries to repair the extensive damage the 28-year-old suffered early last season. Do the Cleveland Browns have what they need on their roster if Chubb is not ready to go to start the season?

Even after the addition of veteran speedster, Nyheim Hines, the Browns running back room lacks a suitable lead back outside of Chubb. Ask yourself this question, if Nick Chubb has to start the season on the physically unable-to-perform list, do you feel comfortable with Jerome Ford, Pierre Strong, and Nyheim Hines for the first four games? You could draft a running back, but would that change your outlook on the room that early in the season? Free agency is the easiest and safest route to get an out-of-the-box, game-ready running back.

Given the fact that Cleveland is currently inside of their winning window, nothing should be left to chance. Let’s face it, if we were guaranteed that Chubb was going to return at even 90 percent of his physical ability to start the year, then we would not be entertaining this question, and I would not be writing this article. But there are no such guarantees, so… here are three free-agent running backs the Browns should consider.

3 Free Agent RB’s the Browns should kick the tires on

Free Agent RB No. 3: Cam Akers

Cam Akers has had a mercurial start to his NFL career. At only 24 years old, Akers is looking for his third team in as many seasons. But there's more than enough upside in Akers’ game for the Browns to consider signing the former first-round pick to a one-year deal.

In addition to how young Akers is, there is also the fact that he is proficient running out of the shotgun. His exposure to Sean McVay’s system is also a plus, as the Browns will be implementing similar concepts this upcoming season. The bottom line is that Akers is someone that should be right up Andrew Berry’s wheelhouse; a former first-rounder that has underperformed and could be had on the cheap.

Free Agent RB No. 2: Rashaad Penny

Nick Chubb was the fourth running back taken in the 2018 NFL Draft. The second running back selected was Rashaad Penny. Now, seven seasons later, Penny is coming off his most unproductive year since entering the NFL and could be a candidate to help handle ball-carrying duties in Chubb’s absence to start the season.

Why would Penny be a suitable candidate? Glad you asked. While Penny was a healthy scratch for all but three games in his lone season in Philadelphia, he was coming off back to back years of averaging over six yards per carry in Seattle.

Why is that significant? Well in 2021, current offensive line coach Andy Dickerson was the Seattle run game coordinator and Penny started 6 games and rushed for 749 yards leading the league with a robust 6.3 yards per carry. If the Browns are just looking for someone to keep the run game on track until Chubb is ready, Penny should be at the top of the list. Also, you could sign him for pennies on the dollar…I’ll see myself out now.

Free Agent RB No.1: D’Onta Foreman

While D’Onta Foreman is three years older than Akers, the 27-year old runner brings a different skill set to the table. Foreman can play the role of a hammer and provide a physicality that the Browns do not currently have on the roster. At 6-foot even and 235 pounds, Foreman coming downhill behind the interior of the Browns offensive line is something that should be enticing to Andrew Berry.

However, Foreman is coming off his worst season as a pro in terms of yards per carry. 2023 was the first season that Foreman was held under four yards per attempt (3.9), but given he was hamstrung by a putrid Chicago Bears offensive line the slippage in production is understandable. On the bright side, there is value to be had due to Foreman’s unfavorable situation last season in Chicago, and AB loves a value.

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