The New York Jets have been relatively quiet this free agency, especially compared to last season’s spending frenzy, but have done a good job adding depth to a position that lacked it last season. Led by the signing of Chicago Bear Matt Forte, the Jets added three running backs to the roster last week after they resigned Bilal Powell and landed free agent Khiry Robinson. With injuries to both Powell and former Jet Chris Ivory throughout last season, it was clear the team had to add depth coming into this season.
Ivory signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars after becoming a free agent, a cause of concern for some as Ivory was coming off the best season of his career but the Jets were quick to fill the void left by his departure. Forte is expected to be named the starter at the start of the season and with good reason. Throughout his eight years in Chicago, Forte showed versatility as both a pass catcher and a rusher. In 2014, Forte set an NFL single season record for receptions by a running back with 102. He has also shown the ability to produce despite inconsistent quarterback play, something the Jets are currently facing as they struggle to resign quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Bilal Powell, who has been with the NY Jets since he was drafted out of The University of Louisville in 2011, resigned shortly after Forte was added. Since joining the New York Jets, Powell has served in a complimentary role to the lead back and offered a solid set of hands and change of pace to traditional between the tackle runners. Despite missing five games due to injury, Powell posted a career-high 47 receptions and was solid when filling in for Ivory. He drew attention this off-season after he finished last season strong, scoring in three of the final four games, and it seems likely he will be a larger part of Jets’ game plans next season.
Khiry Robinson rounds out the Jets’ backfield with a physical running style that will be a nice compliment to the likes of Powell and Forte. According to Pro Football Focus, Robinson ranks second in the league in broken tackles per carry since 2013, trailing only former Seattle Seahawk Marshawn Lynch, who retired at the end of last season. Ivory ranks fifth in the same category. Robinson was both a locker room and crowd favorite during his time in New Orleans, which was evidenced by the standing ovation he received after being carted off the field after breaking his leg in week eight of last season. Although his role seemed to drop off at the beginning of last season, Robinson has shown an ability to finish runs and good quickness for his size.
The sudden depth at running back may prove challenging for offensive coordinator Chan Gailey who now has several weapons at his disposal. Regardless of who is under center next season, the trio of running backs behind him will make life easier.