With free agency opening in less than a month on March 14th, NFL teams have already begun evaluating the potential talent pool that is set to hit the open market. Despite the fact that negotiating can’t begin until the legal tampering period starts on March 12th, front office’s must have an idea of which potential free agents they will target in order to get ahead of the competition at the negotiating table. With that in mind, we here at The Phinsider will be reviewing possible free agent fits for the Dolphins this offseason. Today, we continue with Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell.
The list of potential free agents is subject to change as teams re-sign or cut players over the next few months.
Crowell went undrafted out of Alabama State back in 2014, after which he was signed by the Cleveland Browns. Over four seasons with the team, Crowell has appeared in every single game and became the full-time starter in his third year, a role he’s retained up until this point.
During his tenure, the bruising back was featured as a power runner alongside pass-catcher Duke Johnson Jr. Together, the duo was often the only effective aspect of the Browns’ offense, making Crowell’s career average of 4.2 ypc all the more impressive. Even with defenders stacking the box knowing Cleveland’s most efficient offensive production came on the ground, Crowell still managed to churn out positive yardage.
The 26-year old runner isn’t a one-trick pony either. Over the past two seasons, he’s totaled 68 receptions to go along with 501 receiving yards. Adding that to Crowell’s 1,805 rushing yards in his two years as a full-time starter gives a good picture of just how useful he can be in an offense with a capable quarterback to open up the running game.
What makes Crowell an even more favorable free agent target is how much gas he has left in the tank. Over four seasons in the NFL, Crowell has averaged almost 60 fewer carries than other bell-cow backs like LeSean McCoy, and he’s still at an age in which running backs are entering their prime. Pairing Crowell with a talented speed back like Kenyan Drake would allow Miami to keep both players’ legs fresh and maximize the talents of two very diverse and capable runners.
With Jay Ajayi gone to Philadelphia, the Dolphins are in need of a power runner who can complement their stable of dynamic ball-carriers. If he can be brought in at the right price, Crowell would be an excellent addition to an offense full of playmakers.
With all that said, it’s important to note that recent reports are indicating Crowell will indeed test the open market in March, and Cleveland is unlikely to make a run at retaining him. His expected market value is between $5 - $6 million/year according to Spotrac.com, which would place him just inside the top 10 at the running back position alongside the likes of Giovani Bernard, Latavius Murray, and C.J. Anderson.
Should the Dolphins pursue Isaiah Crowell in free agency?
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