We continue to examine who should stay and who should go from the New York Jets with the running backs. The Jets went through some troubles at running back early in the season, when Chris Ivory was banged up and Bilal Powell was a surprisingly effective starter. Mike Goodson tore his ACL, leaving the Jets without their most expensive free agent addition. However, Ivory came on strong in the second half of the season, and the Jets are very comfortable with their current group of running backs.
The Jets ended the season with Ivory, Powell, Goodson and Alex Green at running back, as well as Tommy Bohanon and Lex Hilliard at fullback. The easy decisions here the starters, Ivory and Bohanon. Ivory proved to be more than worth the fourth round pick the Jets traded for him, carrying 182 times for 833 yards and 3 TDs. The Jets hope to keep Ivory healthy next year and bump him up to around 250 carries, and he could be a breakout star next season. He will do that behind Bohanon, who was a steal as a 7th round pick. Bohanon is a very good lead blocker, and he has shown some promise with the ball in his hands as well.
Powell will also be retained, as he has one more season remaining on his rookie contract. Powell was a solid complement to Ivory, carrying 176 times for 697 yards and 1 TD, adding 36 receptions for 272 yards. Powell is also a good blocker, which is why he held the third down back role for much of the season. He will probably see his touches reduced next season, but he is still a very useful player to have around.
Hilliard missed this entire season with injury, and the Jets will certainly not have him on their roster at the start of next season, although they may invite him to camp. The reality is that no team will carry two fullbacks, and Bohanon has made Hilliard expendable. Green is another player who will struggle to find a place even if he is invited to camp, as he made little impact this season. The Jets would be better off giving some new players a shot to fill their depth chart at running back.
The big decision at running back is Goodson, who tore his ACL in his second game back from a four game suspension. The Jets can save $1.3 million by releasing Goodson, who did show some promise in his brief time on the field. Goodson is still facing legal action for charges of weapons and drug possession, and if he is convicted he will certainly be released. The best thing for the Jets to do would be to move on from Goodson. They badly need a fast running back with receiving skills, but there are going to be players like that available who don’t come with Goodson’s baggage. If the Jets really want to change their locker room culture and public reputation, Goodson can’t be a member of the team.
Running back is one of the Jets’ stronger position groups, and there should be little drama in the backfield this offseason outside of Goodson. The Jets did great work last offseason to rebuild their backfield, and they should continue to find success with Ivory, Powell and Bohanon.