In the 2019 season, the Miami Dolphins (hilariously) had quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick lead the team in rushing yards.
While it is a unique claim to fame, it’s not usually the recipe for success in the NFL.
In the 2020 season, the team got much more production out of its backfield, led by second-year pro Myles Gaskin.
He wasn’t a superstar by any stretch of the imagination, but he was far and away the Dolphins' best option on the ground. In the air, a safety release valve out of the backfield.
He averaged 4.1 yards per carry, and caught an impressive 41 passes from QB’s Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa.
It’s unclear whether Miami feel if he could be the clear-cut bellcow of 2021. But it’s unlikely that his presence would stop them from trying to improve in that area.
They will probably bring in competition in team-friendly deals since both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs proved that teams don’t need generational talent at running back to win in the NFL.
Let’s take a look at three players who they may take a gander at to compete with/provide Gaskin with some relief.
#1 Mark Ingram
Running backs who are over the age of 30 don’t often get a lot of love in free agency, unless it’s Frank Gore’s moth heading towards Adam Gase’s flame.
Mark Ingram, however, is going to be an interesting player in this free agent class. No one is going to bring him in to lead a backfield to glory, but he could still have value in the right situation.
Ingram had one of his best seasons at age 30 with the Baltimore Ravens in 2019, rushing for five yards a carry and 10 touchdowns.
He was an integral part of the team’s success that year, and his “Big Truss” press conference is one of the most memorable in recent memory.
He’s seemed like a team-first guy ever since joining the league in 2011 with the Saints. He has had to split carries, and that pattern has continued throughout his career.
In abbreviated playing time in 2020, Ingram still averaged over four yards a carry, and Miami would be wise to take a look at the former Heisman Trophy winner.
#2 Mike Davis
Seemingly out of nowhere, veteran NFL running back Mike Davis has put himself on the map as a viable option in the backfield.
He’s been on a few teams, including the Carolina Panthers this season. Davis stepped into the spotlight (both in reality and in fantasy football) during an injury-ravaged campaign from starter Christian McCaffery, and did a solid job.
While Davis ran well in the chances he got in McCaffery’s absence, what really caught a lot of people’s attention was his pass catching ability.
In McCaffery-like fashion, Davis had three games in which he caught at least eight passes in 2020, catching 88% of his targets in those contests.
He’s not likely to break away from the pack and score highlight reel touchdowns, but it’s a pretty good bet that the veteran running back will at least help move the chains.
Tagovailoa was not the most daring thrower in terms of firing the ball downfield, so having Davis in the flat might give him the cushion he needs to ease into a game.
#3 James White
In his short tenure as the Dolphins’ head coach, Brian Flores has not been shy about recruiting/recommending former Patriots players as possible solutions in South Florida.
The team has already brought in former New England personnel such as Ted Karras, Kyle Van Noy and Eric Rowe.
If we can extrapolate that pattern a little further, it seems like free agent RB James White would be a likely target for Miami.
Not only is Flores personally familiar with his work, the former Wisconsin running back would be a tremendous fit with Tagovailoa.
For all the reasons mentioned above as to why Davis’ services could be sought after, White’s skill set in the receiving game has been displayed on the grandest of stages.
His veteran ability and knack for finding a soft spot in defense would be a major addition to a Miami team looking to take the next step.