In terms of free agent running backs in the NFL, the good players are coming off the board quickly. And that means, that if the Green Bay Packers want a competent veteran backup for Eddie Lacy next season, they need to act now.
And the the action they need to take is re-signing six-year vet James Starks, who has done an outstanding job of playing second fiddle to Lacy over the past three seasons.
With guys like Matt Forte, Lamar Miller and Chris Ivory off the board, the options for teams are running out, which means sooner rather than later, they are going to come calling about Starks.
Starks is not going to get big money on the free-agent market, Green Bay got him back for two years $4 million last time he hit the market. But, after a season in which he totaled nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage, 601 rushing and 393 receiving, to go along with 53 receptions and five total touchdowns, his stock may be higher than ever.
The nice thing about Starks is that he has never really been the full-time starter in Green Bay, so he has racked up only 555 carries over his six years in the NFL, meaning he has plenty of tread left on the tires. The former sixth-round pick has also managed more than 100 receptions. And after being injury prone early in his career, he has been reliable the past three seasons, playing 45 of a possible 48 games
Historically, the Packers have not been very active in free agency under current general manager Ted Thompson, but they have been willing to re-invest in their own players. Starks has value to the Packers. He’s proven he can consistently produce big plays and average more than four yards per rush. He also is great in the screen game and is solid in pass protection.
It wouldn’t seem to take much more money to sign Starks this time, than the last — it will likely take a multi-year deal worth $2-3 million per season and after the type of year Starks just had, coupled with the uncertainty surrounding Lacy — signing him seems like an obvious move to make.
Hopefully, Thompson and the Packers realize this and act on it, before it’s too late and they are stuck searching through the scrap heap or the middle rounds of the draft for a running back.