Reggie Bush may be the only Miami Dolphins free agent running back, but he is one worth discussing. In this article I will not be reviewing other team's free agent running backs simply because Miami already has a roster full of young capable backs.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins
6' 203 pounds
New Orleans stats in five seasons:
524 carries for 2,090 yards and 17 touchdowns. 294 receptions for 2142 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Miami Dolphins stats in two seasons:
443 carries for 2,072 yards and 12 touchdowns. 78 receptions for 588 yards and three touchdowns.
At 27 years of age and with a history of getting injured, he may not get the big contract from Miami he is seeking, but can he be blamed for looking for a big payday? He came to Miami with low expectations from the fans and the media. He never rushed for more than 581 yards in a season with the Saints, yet in his first season with The Dolphins he ran for 1,086 yards. In his second season he ran for 986 yards and could have gone over a 1,000 yards, but because of injury his pace was slowed. He added six rushing touchdowns in each of his two seasons with Miami, but his receiving totals were down.
He has not been a trouble maker in Miami. He has attempted to be a leader and set positive goals for himself. Jeff Ireland brought him in the same season he drafted Daniel Thomas, so in my opinion Ireland had plans to utilize Bush heavily. In two different systems under Sparano and Philbin Bush has become the complete back: everyone we thought he would be when he was drafted out of USC in 2006.
What it comes down to between Miami and Bush is simple: money. If the Dolphins are not able to sign Bush Miami has options already in place.
Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins
6'1" 233 pounds
Career stats in 2 seasons:
256 rushes for 906 yards and 4 touchdowns. 27 receptions for 228 yards and one touchdown.
If Thomas were a super villain he'd be the Riddler because there are questions all over him.
In two seasons Thomas has played in 25 games because of injuries. In the 2011 draft Ireland traded up in the second round to select him and it wasn't hard to understand why. Thomas' college numbers were 545 rushes for 2850 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2 seasons at Kansas State. But, in the NFL he has not lived up to that. I will not fault him because of injuries, but in 256 rushing attempts he has fumbled five times, losing three of them. He is not the type of back that can make up for those fumbles with his dynamic play. For his size he does not run with force of a 233-pound back either, but he is young and has yet to play in a full season. To his credit his four rushing touchdowns were all in 2012.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
5'10" 218 pounds
Career stats in one season:
51 rushes for 250 yards and one touchdown.
Was drafted in the fourth round in 2012 out of the University of Miami, and he could have been drafted higher if not for injury concerns. His college numbers in two seasons were 335 rushes for 1918 yards and 15 touchdowns. With a 4.4 speed at only 21 years old he is a steal in the fourth round. Miami's coaches did not appear to be confident in Miller's blocking ability or his grasp of the system, but I think he should have seen more action to get him the necessary real time reps needed. In my opinion he was drafted to be the starting back in Miami.
Marcus Thigpen, RB, Miami Dolphins
5'9" 195 pounds
Career stats in one season:
38 kick returns for 1,040 yards and one touchdown. 26 punt returns for 316 yards and one touchdown.
At 26 years old Thigpen was signed from the CFL after spending three seasons there. He spent 2009 with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders and 2010-2011 with the Hamilton Tiger Cats. He was an undrafted free agent in 2009 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was waived and signed by the Denver Broncos only to be waived before the start of the season. While in Hamilton he was used as a returner and his numbers were impressive: 1,722 combined return yards and four touchdowns in 2010 and in 2011 1,520 combined return yards and one touchdown. He may not have the tools to be an every down back, but his return game can't be denied.
Jonas Gray, RB, Miami Dolphins
5'9" 225 pounds
Stats from senior year at Notre Dame:
114 rushes for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns.
At 22 years of age it will be interesting to see if he makes the 53 man roster going into 2013. He started 2012 on the PUP list from ACL surgery that previous November. He is a big back who showed in his senior year he can score, and given a full offseason and training camp maybe Gray can turn some heads. Although one-cut power backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL.
The only way I can see the Dolphins adding a running back is through the draft or as an undrafted free agent. Bush has done his job, but is it good enough to stay in Miami? Ireland created this situation and it's up to him to fix it.
Let me know what your thoughts are and thank you for your time.
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