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2019 Detroit Lions free agency preview: Running Backs

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It’s time for the Lions to find someone to pair with Kerryon.

Carolina Panthers v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

For as long as any Lions fan can remember, the run game has been a real weakness for the Detroit Lions. With the rise of Kerryon Johnson in his rookie year, it seems as though the organization has finally began to turn that around. But Kerryon needs help ,and that help may not be on this team already.

Here is our Lions running back free agency preview:

Previous position previews: Quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line

Currently under contract

Kerryon Johnson

  • Signed through 2021
  • $1,478,111 cap hit in 2019

Theo Riddick

  • Signed through 2019
  • $4,265,000 cap hit in 2019

Mark Thompson

  • Signed through 2020
  • $585,000 cap hit in 2019

Kerwynn Williams

  • Signed through 2019
  • $645,000 cap hit in 2019

Pending free agents

LeGarrette Blount

Zach Zenner

Level of need: 7/10

Right now it’s Kerryon Johnson and bunch of guys. Sure Theo Riddick is still currently on the team, but if I had to make a guess with a gun to my head, he won’t be by the time this team goes to camp. Theo just doesn’t seem to fit the Lions anymore and losing him will will only cost the Lions $962,500. which means the Lions need to find someone to pair with Johnson in 2019.

Top free agents available:

Carlos Hyde - Carlos is a bit of an enigma right now. Your mind tells you that this is a guy that can come in a and make a huge difference right away based on what you saw him do in San Francisco. But he really got lost in the shuffle in 2019 on two teams that frankly had better options than him already. Still, at 28, he has something to offer.

Mark Ingram - The Alvin Kamara era has taken over in New Orleans. That may mean that the Flint, Michigan native will decide to look for a new home instead of staying in The Big Easy. Mark will be hard pressed to find a No. 1 role anywhere in the league at the age of 29, though.

Le’Veon Bell - This is going to be an intriguing story to watch. This is a guy that was the best player at his position the last time he played it. Of course, that was back in 2017 before he decided to sit out the year to avoid being franchised for the second straight season. Le’Veon will be looking to play for a contender, but he’s also going to be looking to get paid big-time money.

Best fit

I beat the drum for years on the idea that the Lions were trying to recreate the New Orleans Saints’ running back by committee formula that helped the Saints go from one of the worst run games in the league to a top five unit in just one year. The Lions could just never find the right pieces. Now they have a chance to recreate the latest Saints rushing attack if they go after Mark Ingram.

Ingram would be the perfect other head on what would be a two-headed monster with Kerryon Johnson. He can come in and be a bruiser while also having a lot of speed and agility. Kerryon can be the patient Le’veon Bell clone that many believe he’s already shown he can be.

The conditions are perfect too. Mark can come to Michigan and finish out his career close to home where his family still lives. And in the meantime, he’ll fill a prominent role in Darrell Bevell’s offense, which is sure to have an increased focus on the running game.