Dunbar's one-year contract is worth up to $3 million, suggesting the Rams expect him to be an important part of the offense in a complementary role to early-down workhorse Todd Gurley. McVay mentioned Washington's Chris Thompson when explaining the role he envisions for Dunbar, who displayed impressive pass-catching chops during his time in Dallas. It seems as if Dunbar has a clear path to the No. 2 running back job, though the Rams likely would utilize a committee if Gurley were to suffer an injury.
Peterson was reportedly asking for more than $8 million in the first year of a contract, which would be in line with the deals given to top running backs the past few years. Considering he's coming off a major injury and just turned 32 years old, he may have to settle for something closer to the deal Eddie Lacy recently signed with Seattle -- a one-year contract worth up to $5.5 million. There are still some potential fits, namely Oakland and Green Bay, but Peterson will first have to accept that teams aren't going to pay him a premium for what he accomplished in the past. Other teams that may be in the market for an early-down runner include the Lions, Patriots, Buccaneers and Giants.
Previously entering the final season of a five-year, $36.5 million contract he signed in 2012, the 30-year-old running back was scheduled for a 2017 cap hit of $8.25 million. The extension likely redistributes some of that charge to 2018, ending any speculation about the possibility Stewart could be released. He had 218 carries for 824 yards (3.8 YPC) and nine touchdowns in 13 games last season, missing at least three contests for a fifth consecutive year. The Panthers could still select a running back early in the upcoming draft.
After missing the first 10 games of the 2016 season due to a fractured forearm, Peerman logged six carries for 15 yards in six games. Where he did make his mark, however, was on special teams. It's a role he'll reprise in 2017, while also continuing to serve as a depth option in the Bengals' backfield.
Oliver sustained a devastating Achilles tear near the end of the preseason slate, missing the entire 2016 campaign as a result. The injury was one of many to the Chargers' backfield, who lost Danny Woodhead (torn ACL) and Melvin Gordon (knee/hip) at various points during the season. After Woodhead bolted to the Ravens this offseason, the Chargers don't have an experienced hand behind Gordon on the RB depth chart. No matter, some combination of Oliver, Kenneth Farrow (shoulder), and recent pickup Kenjon Barner are seemingly capable if called upon in brief bursts.
Langford opened last season as Chicago's three-down workhorse, but he clearly wasn't up to the task even before he hurt his ankle in Week 3. Rookie standout Jordan Howard emerged as the team's workhorse shortly thereafter, relegating Langford to a chance-of-pace role upon his return from injury. The 2015 fourth-round selection doesn't offer much in terms of power or elusiveness, but he should at least have a shot to compete with Cunningham for a role spelling Howard on passing downs. Howard is a decent pass-catcher in his own right, which means such a job probably wouldn't lead to much fantasy utility. Langford may have to earn his roster spot in training camp.
With Vereen coming off a season-ending triceps tear while entering the final yearof his contract, there was some question if the Giants intended to keep him around. The question was answered when the team paid him a $500,000 roster bonus March 13 -- likely doing so with the understanding that Vereen would eventually accept a reduction in his base salary. The Giants did recently sign Shaun Draughn, who has done his best work on passing downs in recent years. Draughn is probably an insurance policy more so than legitimate competition, but it's something to keep an eye on in training camp. Paul Perkins currently slots in as the lead back, with Vereen likely handling most of the work on obvious passing downs, assuming his triceps heals as expected. The Giants could still add another running back during the upcoming draft, but such a move would probably be more of a concern for Perkins than for Vereen.
With Ty Montgomery still under contract for two more seasons, Green Bay has understandably been connected with powerful early-down runners -- namely LeGarrette Blount and Adrian Peterson. The team might still consider Charles if the price is right, as he could potentially contribute in a committee featuring Montgomery and Christine Michael (or a draft pick). Fellow free agent Tim Hightower would probably be a better fit, offering a middle ground between early-down runner and pass-catching specialist. Charles may merely be the latter at this stage of his career, with injuries to both knees likely robbing him of his once-elite speed and explosiveness. He's expected to take his time finding a new team, perhaps hoping to regain some of that explosiveness before he signs.
Less than a week removed from signing up with the Vikings, Murray went under the knife Wednesday for an issue that became known during a mandated physical. He's expected to be healthy in time for training camp, but his absence from the offseason program could put him behind the eight ball as he attempts to build a rapport with quarterback Sam Bradford and the rest of the offense. Throughout three seasons with the Raiders, he averaged 4.2 YPC and gathered in 91 of 119 targets (76.5 percent). Typically, sure hands would indicate that he's poised for a three-down role, but Jerick McKinnon has experience within the system, while the Vikings are a candidate to select a running back in April's draft, two factors that may place a damper on Murray's expectations.
Per the Vikings, the issue was revealed during Murray's physical prior to signing with the team last week. The extent nor the severity have been revealed, but he's expected to be ready by the start of training camp, thereby wiping away a larger portion of the implementation of the offense due to his absence from the offseason program. Nonetheless, Murray isn't expected to be a true workhorse in the vein of the player he's slated to replace -- Adrian Peterson -- but the 27-year-old boasts steady receiving skills, reeling in 91 of 119 targets during three seasons with the Raiders. With the knowledge of Wednesday's surgery, expect the Vikings to tab another RB in next month's NFL Draft.