Earlier today, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted that teams had approached the Chicago Bears regarding Jordan Howard. By the way Schefter framed it, it looks like the Bears are receptive, as the tweet states that discussions are “ongoing”.
As a Bears fan, this pains me. Howard has been fun to watch and has given his all while donning the Blue and Orange. I’ll never forget the way he produced against stacked fronts during the miserable John Fox era. They essentially ran Howard into the ground with their predictable (run-run-pass) play calling. As I like to say, sad foo!
While the Bears offense took a huge step forward with the hiring of coach Matt Nagy, it was evident from day one that Howard’s style was not a great fit for the offense. Given his production last season, his lack of receiving skills, and the emergence of Tarik Cohen, it is clear that the Bears are going to invest in another RB.
Howard is set to make $2.025 million in 2019. It is the final year of the rookie deal he signed after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2016. With the Bears lacking draft capital due to the Khalil Mack trade, dealing Howard makes sense. And, even if Howard wasn’t moved this season, I had pegged the Bears to grab a RB with one of their first two picks in Rounds 3 or 4.
While Le'Veon Bell is currently the best RB available on the free agent market, the cupboard is bare after him. In fact, after looking at who would be left on the market once Bell is signed, Howard would be the next best option as he’s proven to be more reliable than the Falcon’s Tevin Coleman. Of course, this also depends on what the team needs to give up to acquire him, but I am talking strictly from a durability and performance standpoint.
So, with all that being said, here are five teams that would be perfect landing spots for Howard:
New York Jets
The Jets running game last year was composed of Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire, and Bilal Powell. Nothing special there, and Powell and McGuire have struggled to say healthy. If the Jets want to make a move up the standings next season, pairing a strong running back that has playoff experience with their franchise QB in Sam Darnold seems like a good start.
While Gus Edwards averaged 5.2 yards a carry for the Ravens last season, he does not seem like he is capable of handling a full workload. The Ravens have had a different leading rusher each of the last four seasons, but dealing for Howard would put an end to that and give them stability at the position. The ability to rely on Howard’s downhill running, experience, and blocking, would also help protect their young QB in Lamar Jackson.
The often injured Lamar Miller just doesn’t seem to be the answer in Houston, and the rest of their depth chart doesn’t look much better. Alfred Blue, while productive as a role player, isn’t a lead back, and D’Onta Foreman, while having a lot of promise, is never healthy. A RB like Howard makes perfect sense in this offense as a complement to QB Deshaun Watson.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Howard is made for Bruce Arians’ offense. Arians is an old-school football guy that loves workhorse backs, and Howard fits that mold to a t. While the Bucs passing offense has been fun to watch, they have struggled to run the ball. In fact, over the last three seasons, Tampa Bay’s leading rusher has averaged only 611 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Whether Arians sticks with Jameis Winston or not, putting a better running game in place would be a great start to balance out this offense.
The Raiders have a ton of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, so coach Jon Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock have their work cut out for them. Their biggest need is at pass rush, so expect a heavy investment in defense with their early picks. But, they could also use an upgrade at RB, as the two currently on their roster, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin, are on the wrong side of 30. And, while Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have shown flashes, they are both role players at the end of the day. They have the draft capital and cap space to make a move for a RB like Howard.
No matter where Howard ends up, I’ll always have love for him. The sentimental me wants him to come back for one more Super Bowl run, but the realist in me thinks he is gone.