Packers Off-Season Must; Find Answer at Running Back


ryan grant packers

With an offense led by Aaron Rodgers and a seemingly endless amount of weapons on the perimeter, a running game has not been integral for the Green Bay Packers the past couple of years.  However, with Ryan Grant hitting the free agent market this off-season, general manager Ted Thompson will have to make a decision about which direction to go with the position.

After suffering a torn ACL in the first game of the 2010 season, Grant had a decent bounce back year with the limited opportunities he was given.  He only ran the ball 134 times for 559 yards, giving him a respectable average of 4.2 yards per carry.  Grant spent most of the season splitting carries with James Starks as head coach Mike McCarthy often rode the hot hand (err… I guess legs in this situation) depending on the feel of the game.

Even though he has only played five years in the NFL, Grant does turn 30 years old which is typically the beginning of the end for most running backs.  Our friends at rank Grant as the ninth best free agent running back available this off-season.  If Thompson and McCarthy want Grant back, they should be able to re-sign him at a fairly affordable rate and for a short-term deal.  If Grant is not part of the Pack’s future, they will have to find an up-grade at running back somewhere else.

Starks, Alex Green, and Brandon Saine currently make up the running back corp for the 2012 season.  Accountability is the biggest concern with that group.  Starks battled injury this past season; an issue that has plagued him since he missed his entire senior season at Buffalo because of a shoulder injury.  Green, a third round pick in last year’s NFL Draft, is still an unknown commodity since he only touched the ball four times in 2011 before undergoing season ending knee surgery.  An undrafted free agent signing in July, Saine got more work as this season progressed due to the injury to Starks but really shouldn’t be counted on to play a major role next year.

There is no way Green Bay can comfortably enter the 2012 season with those three running backs but as Packer fans know, it is highly unlikely Thompson will sign an established free agent running back or trade a draft pick for one either since his philosophy is building through the draft.  With all the upgrades needed on the defensive side of the football though, I can’t imagine Thompson using a first or second day draft pick on a running back either.

Therefore, the most viable option seems to be re-signing Grant and continuing to utilize the two-headed attack of him and Starks with either Green or Saine serving as a third down back.  Thompson has been able to find low round steals (Grant was acquired for a sixth round pick, Starks was a seventh round pick, Saine an undrafted free agent), so maybe he can strike gold again.  Let’s be honest though; as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center in Green Bay, a dominant running game is not needed.  Still, the Starks/Green/Saine trio won’t cut it either.




  1. Nick Grays says

    I agree with this. I think they should pursue Jason Snelling, Justin Forsett or Cadillac Williams. They are all backs who should be cheap buys and they have great NFL experience. Grant has shown flashes of his old-self, but just isn’t the same.

  2. Packers are likely to have more success resigning Grant, Starks is not a sure full time player, he hasn’t been injury free since they signed him. Grant was just beginning to get his “legs” under him with more work after Starks and Saine went out with injury, has been a 1200 yd per season back in past, don’t see anything in his play this season that shows he’s not the Ryan Grant of ’09. Packers likely to get him cheaper than other available backs in FA and he knows the system.

  3. How about Starks, Green, and LaMichael James as our three-headed monster. James has a chance to drop to the third round (highly unlikely though) and if we tag and deal Flynn to the right team we can rebuild our defense enough to feel safe to pich him up by the end of the second round. It’s a lot better than any combo we have right now.

  4. Green Bay hasn’t had a decent running game since before I can remember. If they would just fork over some dough for a really good back, they’d be unstopable! They already have the rest of the package – this should be a no-brainer.

  5. paulmbanks says

    i’m with ya on the lamichael james idea

  6. Yeah, I would love Lamichael James, but I would be shocked to see Ted Thompson actually draft him.

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