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San Diego Chargers Offseason: Free Agent Running Backs

Yesterday, the Silver Fox answered a few San Diego Chargers-related question on Twitter in the middle of the day while watching Wheel of Fortune. One of them started quite the conversation:

With Jacob Hester and Mike Tolbert hitting free agency, and Curtis Brinkley not seen as a long-term option as Ryan Mathews' backup, it makes some sense that the Chargers would look at the free agent running backs that might be cheaper (and better) options.

After the jump, I'll take a look at who will be out there and what names jump out at me.

For obvious reasons, I've skipped right over all of the RBs that have at least a good chance of landing a starting RB spot somewhere.

  • Chester Taylor - After having a great start to his career, Taylor hit that 30+ year old RB wall at the same time that the Chicago Bears were throwing money at him to be their 3rd down RB. Less than 1,200 career carries leads you to believe that he still has something left, especially as a pass-catcher/pass-blocker (his specialty).
  • Sammy Morris - An interesting name, but his age (35) raises some red flags. Has had some good seasons in the AFC East and filled in well for the Cowboys last year. His hands are okay.
  • Maurice Morris - Is 33 years old now, but his experience on kick and punt returns early in his career leads you to believe that he could contribute there in some way (although not as a returner). Has been incredibly consistent, and slightly above average, for the last ten years. Chargers have shown interest in him in the past.
  • Kevin Smith - This former first-round draft pick had two mediocre seasons with the Lions and then seemed to fall off the face of the earth until about halfway through last year when the Lions brought him back and he showed off his skills as a runner and a pass-catcher. He's 25, and his good half-season last year might get him some better offers, but if he's interested it could be a good fit with the Chargers.
  • Steve Slaton - Another young player, like Smith, that had success early in his career before disappearing. For Smith, the issue was injuries. For Slaton, it was fumbles. After a rookie season where he got Offensive ROY consideration, Slaton fumbled 7 times through the first half of his second year before being benched. Could serve as a kick returner as well as a backup RB, but is a risky option.
  • Ronnie Brown - Once thought of as one of the league's best RBs, Brown took a 1-year deal with the Eagles last season and did a poor job as LeSean McCoy's backup. He'll be looking to find a job that better utilizes his skillset, and specifically his hands. He regularly caught 30+ passes per season before catching zero last year.
  • Mewelde Moore - Another name that I think I've heard tossed around in rumors as a player the Chargers are interested in, Moore has very little mileage on his 30 year old body and is coming off successful four-year stints with the Vikings and Steelers. Would seemingly be a perfect fit for San Diego if the price was right, but might now be interested in leaving Pittsburgh.
  • Jerious Norwood - The 29 year old has been a successful kick returner and backup Running Back for years. However, after missing almost the entire 2010 season with an injury, he had an atrocious season (as a RB) with the Rams in 2011 and might be looking for a better offensive line to run behind. Would make an interesting tandem with Ryan Mathews.
Those are just the guys that stood out. There's plenty of others out there, so feel free to throw names at me in the comments below and I'll tell you if I think they're a good or bad fit for San Diego and why.