NFL Green Bay Packers

5 Running Backs Green Bay Packers Should Consider Signing in Free Agency

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5 Running Backs Green Bay Packers Should Consider Signing in Free Agency

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The Green Bay Packers are in off-season mode after being bounced from the playoffs by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional round. General manager Ted Thompson must figure out exactly what it is his team needs to get back to the promise land. One piece to the puzzle the Packers could use is a top notch running back.

If only Green Bay could find a decent rushing attack their offense would be unstoppable. The problem they face is defenses know they are going to pass nine times out of 10, which means the opposing pass rushers line up to tee off on quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Is it any wonder why he was the most sacked quarterback in the league this past season?

It is not as if the Packers have terrible running backs on their roster, it is more that they seem incapable of moving the chains on the ground as a unit. A lot of this falls on what has to be one of the worst offensive lines in the league. However, part of the blame most definitely falls on the backs.

Green Bay must do whatever they can to figure out a ground game before the start of the 2013 NFL season. If they don’t then the fans and players can expect a similar outcome to 2012, which is a talented team that is loaded with potential but just simply does not have enough to get over the hump. It certainly would not hurt for Green Bay to take a chance in free agency and acquire a veteran back that can teach Alex Green and DuJuan Harris how to be successful in the NFL.

Which five free agent running backs should the Packers consider signing during the 2013 off-season?

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5. Ryan Grant

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Ryan Grant was released by the Packers before the 2012 season but signed with the team in early December after James Starks and Cedric Benson went down with season-ending injuries. In only four games, Grant carried the ball 31 times for 127 yards but scored two rushing touchdowns, which tied the team high for the season. He also hauled in one reception for 34 yards. It is highly unlikely the Packers bring back the 30-year-old considering the team has several other options, but he is certainly someone they should consider.

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4. Rashard Mendenhall

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Rashard Mendenhall will most likely not be on Green Bay’s radar considering the 25-year-old dealt with injuries and inconsistent play in 2012. However, he has proven he can still play and still has several good years left in him. Not to mention, the Pittsburgh Steelers do not plan on bringing him back, which means Green Bay could at least invite him to training camp just to see what happens. Mendenhall has rushed for at least 1,100 yards twice in his five-year career. He is also very successful catching the football in the flat and making big plays.

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3. Shonn Greene

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Shonn Greene is a very productive running back who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. There is no question he is a physical back who punishes defenders who try to tackle him high. Green Bay’s Harris has proven to be a big finisher in the limited action he saw last year but Greene has far more experience running the ball. Unfortunately, Greene needs a good offensive line in front of him that can consistently open up holes to run through which is something the Packers are not known for. However, if given the right protection he could big a huge factor in Green Bay’s offense.

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2. Cedric Benson

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The one player on this list that the Packers will most likely sign in free agency is Benson. Green Bay liked what he did in the limited amount of action he saw this season and the team has high hopes for the 30-year-old running back. Benson has reportedly stated he wants to return to the Packers next season and, more importantly, Rodgers has made it perfectly clear he wants him on the team.

"I’m hopeful we can bring him back next year," said Rodgers. "He still has a lot left. I know he takes care of his body the right way."

The fact that Rodgers and Benson have created a bond between each other and have become good friends bodes well for the Texas native. It is also good for the Packers because I believe a healthy Benson is exactly what Green Bay needs to get a solid running game going in the future.

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1. Steven Jackson

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The No. 1 running back the Packers should sign during the off-season is Steven Jackson, who has a voidable year for 2013. Jackson will hit the free agency market looking for a big contract, a larger deal then Green Bay is most likely willing to give him. However, Jackson could be talked into signing a reasonable contract that will pay him less money because he will have a better chance at winning a Super Bowl with the Packers then he ever did with the St. Louis Rams.

The 29-year-old has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in eight consecutive seasons with an offensive line that has recently not been as good as one would think. Jackson is a powerful back that bulldozes through defenders. If the offensive line does not open a hole for him, he finds a way to gain positive yards. He is everything the Packers want in a running back and then some. Trying to sign Jackson to an affordable deal should be Green Bay’s No. 1 priority in the off-season because it would give Rodgers the run game he desperately needs to tear teams apart.