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2020 Free Agent Primer: Running Back

Breakout star Kenyan Drake poised to hit the open market

The Cardinals are hoping for a major turnaround in 2020 behind quarterback Kyler Murray, but the roster still needs to be upgraded. General Manager Steve Keim has some cap space this offseason and will aim to plug holes on both sides of the ball. We will break down each position group leading up to free agency, which begins with the legal tampering period on Monday, March 16.

Free agent primer: Running back

Other positional primers: LB I WR I DL I QB I CB I TE I S I ST I OL

Cap hit of players under contract for 2020 (via David Johnson ($14.2 million); Chase Edmonds ($773,089).

Scheduled free agents: Kenyan Drake; D.J. Foster.

Need: Medium

Analysis: Kenyan Drake averaged 80.4 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry in eight contests with the Cardinals following a midseason trade. General Manager Steve Keim wants him back, but at age 26 Drake is aiming to parlay that strong finish into a nice contract. As well as Drake played, most running backs have not gotten big money the past several years, and the stars who have been paid have generally underperformed the contracts. It will be an interesting to see how much interest Drake commands, and if he ends up back with the Cardinals.

David Johnson was relegated to a reserve role upon Drake's arrival. The former star has not produced that way since 2016, but with his $10.2 million salary fully guaranteed next season, cutting Johnson is not an option, Keim said. A trade would be more financially palatable, but there would be contractual hurdles to clear. If Johnson returns next season, there will be a heavy emphasis on finding ways to use him effectively in coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense.

Chase Edmonds played well when carries were available, averaging 5.1 yards per attempt, and would love a bigger role if one becomes available. D.J. Foster's special teams prowess helped him make the team, although his season was cut short by a hamstring injury and he's now an impending free agent.

Some of the top impending unrestricted free agents include Derrick Henry, Melvin Gordon, Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller. Matt Breida and Kareem Hunt are restricted free agents slated to hit the market.

There is plenty of unknown at the position, and thus it's hard to foresee how free agency will play out. It seems plausible that Drake, Johnson, Edmonds or a free agent addition could be atop the running back depth chart when March comes to a close.

Notable past free agent running back signings: Chris Johnson (2015); Rashard Mendenhall (2013); Edgerrin James (2006); Emmitt Smith (2003); Mario Bates (1998).

Images of running backs slated to hit the open market

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