Nearly halfway through the 2015 season, we are now at the point where we can start looking forward to free agency in 2016 based on this year’s current performances. This week we will take a brief look at the players who may project to be the top unrestricted free agents this season at the running back position and estimate some potential ranges for a new contract in 2016.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers
Martin has come from nowhere to produce big this season for the Buccaneers. Martin is averaging over 90 yards a game and is on pace for over 1,400 yards this year. Martin’s career arc is relatively unique. He exploded onto the scene as a rookie in 2012, rushing for 1,454 yards and being a threat in the passing game. He was poor in 2013 before an injury ended his season and landed in the doghouse in 2014 while seemingly dealing with more bumps and bruises. To come back to the 1,400 yard level after that is not that normal. Continue reading 2016 NFL Free Agency: Running Back Overview »
Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have helped their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that exceeded all expectations and provided exceptional value to his team.
Chris Johnson– For one week CJ2K seemed to turn back the clock and look like the back everyone thought he would be when the Titans signed him to the $13.49 million dollar contract. Johnson ran for 150 yards and two scores and was actually a player that could be relied on for more than one big run. Johnson still has a lot of work cut out for him if he wants to stick in Tennessee next year- the team will save $4 million in cap room and $8 million in cash by releasing him– but he at least took one step to keeping his contract in place in 2014.
Riley Cooper– The Eagles receiver became a very controversial figure following some unfortunate remarks he made at a concert, but on the field he has had a career year in his walk season. Hes made the most out of the opportunity that was created by the injury to Jeremy Maclin and has more than doubles his per game output from last season. Riley’s 139 yard game was his second 120 plus yard game in the last 4 and he is now averaging 90 yards per game over that stretch. His improved stats have come directly as a result of Mike Vick being injured and if he continues to be a major target for the younger QB’s the Eagles will be rushing to keep him next season.
Jerricho Cotchery– Cotchery had a 3 TD game on Sunday and his second 90 plus yard game on the year. While the Steelers lost again he is on pace for his best season since 2007 and could get an opportunity to come back to Pittsburgh next year at a raise from his current $1.5 million a year annual contract. While Cotchery will by no means be an expensive player there are many people who likely thought he was finished when the Jets gave up on him in 2011 and the Steelers signed him for the minimum to compete for a job. With the Steelers salary cap problems likely leading to a departure for Emmanuel Sanders, Cotchery has a chance to lock in some good playing time in 2014.
New Contract Player Of The Week
Chris Ivory– There were a number of players who deserved consideration for this, but Ivory dominated his old team and was the offensive catalyst for the Jets in their upset win over the Saints. Ivory ran for 139 yards on 18 carries in a game where the Jets’ QB, Geno Smith, only attempted 19 passes and gained just 115 yards. Ivory had been a bit of a bust for the Jets since he came over in a trade. He’s battled injuries, something he has been saddled with his whole career, and been mediocre when he has been on the field, but on Sunday he was everything the Jets could have hope for.
This week we take a look at Emmanuel Sanders and the Steelers, the Jets and Darrelle Revis and Chris Ivory, plus some talk about the CBA.
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