Despite the drafting of Kenyan Drake in the third round, the Miami Dolphins should consider adding Arian Foster to their backfield mix.
This offseason has been a rough one in terms of finding a running back for new head coach Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins.
The offseason kicked off with the team losing Lamar Miller to the Houston Texans to a rich contract. The Texans again affected the next Dolphin move, as their signing of Brock Osweiler eventually led the Broncos to matching the Dolphins offer sheet to running back C.J. Anderson.
Anderson, who had his breakout 2014 season under Gase in Denver, was actually the running back the Dolphins had rated higher, but they were unable to sign him to a team-friendly offer sheet.
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With limited cap space and other key players unsigned, a Osweiler contract would have blocked the Broncos ability to match an Anderson offer sheet if Osweiler remained in Denver.
However, with Osweiler signing with the Texans, the Broncos had to salvage some of kind offense and re-signed their lead running back.
This led speculation to run amok before the draft that Ezekiel Elliott would be the Dolphins draft pick, either with the 13th pick or with a trade up. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you don’t believe in drafting a running back in Round 1), their plans never came to fruition, as Elliott went fourth to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dolphins did eventually land Kenyan Drake in the third round, making him as the third running back selected. However, Drake has been labeled by some teams and analysts as an injury prone prospect, though that sentiment might be overblown.
Even with last year’s fifth-round pick, Jay Ajayi, as well as Drake, currently in the backfield, the Dolphins still likely need another back. It should be one with more experience than Ajayi and Drake to help the youngsters out.
Between Ajayi and Drake, the Dolphins running back duo has 49 career rushing attempts. The need for someone who has experience is somewhat important to add, especially since the Dolphins have a bit of cap space left over.
Enter Arian Foster, a player the Dolphins had visit earlier this off-season. Foster tore his Achilles against Miami last season, in a Texans blowout loss to the Dolphins, but he has recovered nicely this offseason.
Foster could have passed a physical during his visit, but both sides wanted to wait until Foster is 100% before agreeing to a contract.
While there’s still a chance Foster signs in Miami, there has been buzz of interest from other teams, including the Dolphins divisional foe, the New England Patriots, kicking the tires on the 32-year old running back.
However, the Dolphins still have a need to add another running back to their roster, and Arian Foster seems to be the perfect fit.
Foster’s regular season stats don’t look great from last year, when he had 63 carries for 163 yards, with that totaling just a 2.6 yard per carry average. However, Foster owns a 4.5 yards per carry mark for his career, with that number peaking at 4.8 during the 2014 season.
While his numbers from a year ago don’t look great, Pro Football Focus still rated him as the fifth-best available free agent running back this offseason.
Between Foster’s patience, vision, and his ability to make defenders miss tackles, Foster has everything a team wants in a running back. Obviously the injury issues are always a concern with Foster. Last year, against Miami of all teams, Foster’s season ended when he suffered an Achilles injury in a game where the Texans were being blown out.
Still, the great thing about Foster is that he has never relied on his speed or athleticism for his style of play. Foster instead relies on his fantastic vision and patience to find holes in the defense, to pick up his yardage.
Foster would also not command a lot of money, despite many teams interest, due to his age and injury history.
Foster would not be expected to be the every down back in Miami, rather switching off drives with Jay Ajayi on first and second down, with Kenyan Drake taking the majority of the reps on third and passing downs. Although Foster has been a decent receiver out of the backfield in his career.
For his career, Foster has 249 receptions totaling 2,268 yards. He had 8 receptions for 93 yards last year in just six games.
That pass catching ability actually makes him a great fit in an Adam Gase offense, that utilizes the running back in the pass game. C.J. Anderson had 34 catches in Gase’ offense in 2014, with Matt Forte catching 44 balls a season ago.
While Ajayi and Drake are two extremely talented backs that compliment each other well, the Miami Dolphins still have a need at the position, as neither back is very experienced. Foster is an excellent fit for the Dolphins to fill that role due to his versatility, patience, and experience.