3 Potential replacements for Jaguars RB Travis Etienne after his season-ending injury

Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp
Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp

During the 2021 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars used one of their two first-round picks to select Travis Etienne, arguably the best running back in college football last year.

Etienne looked poised to have a big season with his college teammate Trevor Lawrence during his rookie season. But during the Jaguars' preseason game Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, the rookie running back exited the game after three downs and did not return to the field.

The initial X-rays came back negative, giving Jacksonville optimism that the injury was merely a sprain. But further evaluation revealed the severity of the damage. Travis Etienne has been diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury with a significant tear that'll keep him out of action for a minimum of 12 weeks, which most likely ends his season.

Now with James Robinson firmly at the helm leading the Jaguars' rushing attack, Jacksonville will have to turn their heads to the remaining pool of free-agent backs to replace Travis Etienne. With veteran running back Carlos Hyde also on the roster, the front office will likely seek a pass-catching running back in free agency.

Here are a few players that general manager Trent Baalke should call:

Free-agent running backs the Jaguars should target to replace Etienne

#1 - T.J. Yeldon

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans

What better move can the Jaguars make in replacing Etienne than re-signing a former Jacksonville running back?

Yeldon played for the Jaguars from 2015-2018 and was the featured back in his first three seasons with the team. With experience as a starter, he would make an excellent addition and the fans would rave over the return of their once beloved running back.

His most valuable quality to this team would be his ability to catch the football and serve as the back for the third-down situation -- a role/skill he developed playing behind Leonard Fournette. In four seasons, Yeldon totaled 171 receptions for 1,312 yards and six touchdowns.

The Jaguars already possess gritty, ground-and-pound running backs in Robinson and Hyde. Acquiring T.J. Yeldon would add a new dimension to their running game.

#2 - Duke Johnson

Houston Texans v Detroit Lions
Houston Texans v Detroit Lions

Duke Johnson has served as the quintessential pass-catching running back over the past five seasons. Since entering the league in 2015, the 27-year-old has averaged a catch success rate of 76%.

Over the past five seasons, he's reeled in 307 catches for 2829 yards and 12 touchdowns. During the 2017 season, he caught 74 passes for 693 yards.

He'd be quite the weapon for rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

#3 - Dion Lewis

New York Giants v Los Angeles Rams
New York Giants v Los Angeles Rams

Veteran back Dion Lewis will bring his championship pedigree to a team sorely lacking in that department.

Lewis, 30, has enjoyed remarkable success during his time in the NFL. The Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, and the New England Patriots all garnered playoff success during his time with them.

He's averaged 13.8 yards per reception along with a 79.3 catch rate in 10 seasons. No running back available in free agency will bring more versatility than Dion Lewis and the Jaguars should reach out to him because his experience and consistent play will pay tangible dividends.

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Edited by Jay Lokegaonkar