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Jets’ offseason primer: Running backs
As we roll through our quick offseason previews at each position, we head to a position that has plenty of hope for the future, the running back position. We’ll look at who’s under contract and any potential offseason moves.
Under contract for 2023
Before tearing his ACL in Week 7 against the Broncos, Hall may have been on his way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Despite missing the final ten games of the season, Hall still led the team in rushing with 463 yards and four touchdowns and also added 218 yards on 19 catches with one touchdown. Hall should be ready for training camp and with a (hopefully) improved offensive line and better quarterback play, Hall should be in line for his first 1,000-yard season.
Carter started the season as the No. 1 back, took a backseat to Hall then finished the season splitting duties with Zonovan Knight and Ty Johnson. He did finish second on the team with 402 yards and three rushing touchdowns along with 288 receiving yards on 41 catches, which was third on the team. Carter will serve as a solid No. 2 back behind Hall moving forward.
After spending time on the practice squad, Knight got his opportunity in the second half of the season with Hall on the shelf. Knight started off with a bang, recording three games with at least 69 rushing yards, including a 90-yard day on the ground and 118 total yards in Week 13 against the Vikings. He tailed off in the final four weeks of the season with Zach Wilson and Joe Flacco under center. He didn’t reach 30 rushing yards in that stretch, including -2 yards on the ground against the Jaguars in Week 16. With Hall and Carter back, Knight will be RB3 at best and could be back on the practice squad.
Free agents for 2023
James Robinson (restricted free agent)
Robinson was a midseason acquisition by the Jets for a late-round pick in 2023 that never carved out a role. After being active his first three games as a Jet, Robinson was inactive for five of the final six weeks. He finished with just 85 yards on 29 carries. To put that into perspective, Zach Wilson had 28 carries for 102 yards in nine games. As a restricted free agent, the Jets can place a tender on Robinson, but even the lowest tender would cost $2.6 million, which seems unlikely to be paid by the Jets when they can get cheaper and better production elsewhere.
Johnson was a change-of-pace back and saw more time as the season wound down. His best game came in Week 12 against the Bears with 78 total yards and a touchdown in the 31-10 win over Chicago. It’s more likely the Jets add a late-round pick in the draft and put him in Johnson’s roster spot.
The Jets’ fullback spent the entire season on injured reserve after being placed on the list during the Jets’ cutdown to 53 players in August.
There’s a Nathaniel Hackett connection here from Williams’ early days in Green Bay. He’s projected to get a contract of about $4 million by Spotrac coming off a season in which he scored 17 touchdowns. He could give the Jets another bruiser at the goal line, but would the Jets pay that much for a No. 2 back?
Mattison has shown to be a fine No. 2 back and can step up in a pinch when called upon. He scored five touchdowns in limited work last season for the Vikings with Dalvin Cook playing every game this season. Mattison could be an intriguing switch-up from Breece Hall during games and would give the Jets an interesting one-two punch in the backfield.
Maybe the Jets eye a back from within the AFC East. Harris had injury issues in 2022 and watched as Rhamondre Stevenson take over as the lead back in New England. Harris could serve as a solid backup to Hall and has some explosive plays in him. He could have a similar role as he did in New England.
Kenny McIntosh, Georgia
Jets running backs coach Pat Bastien got a close look at McIntosh in Mobile, Alabama at the Senior Bowl. He had a minor injury scare in Mobile but eventually got back on the field. McIntosh will likely be a day-three pick, but he doesn’t have many miles logged. McIntosh scored ten touchdowns and rushed for 829 yards on just 150 carries and added 43 catches. He can add both rushing and catching value to pair with Breece Hall.
Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota
It was great to see Ibrahim recover from his past injuries to have the kind of season he did in 2022 with 20 touchdowns and over 1,600 rushing yards. He will be a solid change-of-pace back for a team in the NFL but may never be a full-time back because of his injury history. His skillset could fit in well behind the pairing of Hall and Carter if the Jets want to go that route.
Story originally appeared on Jets Wire