Green Bay Signs Cedric Benson; Here are Five Other Veteran Running Backs Looking for Jobs

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bill-swift - August 14, 2012

For Cedric Benson it was a long time coming, but he has finally gotten a job. He didn't just get a job though. He traded way, way up from the Cincinnati Bengals to a team heavily favored to win the next Super Bowl--the Green Bay Packers.

The circumstances could not be better either. Green Bay's running back corp has been decimated with injuries. Starter James Starks is struggling with turf toe; Brandon Saine is having hamstring issues and Du'ane Bennett problems with his knee. Alex Green is technically healthy, but he's working his way back from reconstructive knee surgery.

That leaves an undrafted rookie named Marc Tyler (I don't know who he is either) and now Cedric Benson, a workhorse type back that has rushed for over 1000 yards in each of the last three seasons. Any doubts on who is going to win the job?

There are bound to be other teams with running back issues over the next few weeks, be it due to injuries or lack of production. If they want a veteran ball carrier they should consider giving one of the following guys a call:

Cadillac Williams: This year is not one that would normally bode well for an out of work running back. Williams is 30; the age where the decline typically begins. For someone that has battled injuries throughout his whole career that is not a good sign, and is likely why he is out of work.

However, when healthy he is still a quality back. While filling in for Rams starter Steven Jackson in Week One last season he carried the ball 19 times for 91 yards. He was only used sparingly after that game, but when he did run he looked good averaging a respectable 4.1 yards a carry. Due to his light use his body is likely in the best condition of his career making him an intriguing pick up.

Joseph Addai: Judging the career of any running back that has played with Peyton Manning is tough. Running was the last thing that was on Peyton's or anyone's mind. That makes his two 1000+ yard seasons to start his career pretty impressive.

However, due to playing in system that like to use mutliple backs on the rare occasion it actually used them and injuries, he has not been able to keep that pace up. Like many players on last year's squad he had a career-worst year with just 433 yards. Indy cut him; the Patriots picked him up, but then they cut him too.

The word is that he may have failed the physical. If that is the case, his career is likely over, but if not he could provide a team with some valuable depth as the season wears on.

Ryan Grant: It is surprising that the former Packer is still available. He was a good runner on a team that primarily threw the ball from 2007-09 with a pair of 1200+ yard seasons. An injury knocked out his 2010 season before it started. For some reason the team decided to have him split the duty with James Starks (so neither back looked particularly good). The team opted to keep Starks and let Grant go.

It had to be a money thing; otherwise it makes no sense to cut him for another 29-year old (Grant signed a four year deal worth up to $30 million in '08; Benson is making league minimum. Grant didn't look like he was suffering any ill-effects from his '10 injury last season. If he is not the next running back signed there must be have done something horrible to football players everywhere (cursed the name of Vince Lombardi, spat on Knute Rockne's grave, etc.).

Thomas Jones: TJ is the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL; no back has gotten less respect over the duration of his career than this guy. He has never been flashy; just a hard working, dependable back. That didn't stop the Bears from ditching him after a pair of 1000+ yard seasons. The Jets followed suit after he gave them three including a 1,412 yard effort in his last season.

With Kansas City he was no longer the featured back, but shared time with Jamaal Charles. What likely ended his time was when the Chiefs figured out how to utilize Dexter McCluster as a running back as well as a wide receiver. His age will scare some people off (34 on August 19), but when injuries pile up teams could do a lot worse.

Ryan Torain: This poor guy just needs a chance, and the team that finally gives it to him will be very happy. He never got a chance in Denver, but when he was allowed to run in Washington he did well. His best season was in 2010 when he ran for more than 700 yards seeing time in 10 games. What should entice teams is that when he carried the ball 20 or more times he rushed for over 100 yards.

He is only 26. He did break his hand in '10, but otherwise has only had minor injuries like most NFL running backs. If it's foolish that Ryan Grant is still available, it's lunacy that Ryan Torain is.

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