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4 best running back options for the Miami Dolphins during NFL offseason

Miami Dolphins trade for Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott
Jan 3, 2021; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) leaves the field after the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of whether the Miami Dolphins are able to land Deshaun Watson in a blockbuster trade or roll with Tua Tagovailoa next season, they are going to be in the market for a running back.

Acquired in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers last offseason, Matt Breida did not live up to expectations for the Dolphins in 2020. Both Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed are not legitimate RB1 options.

It has led to speculation that Dolphins general manager Chris Grier will use either financial or draft capital on this position during the NFL offseason. Below, is a look at the four-best running back options for Miami.

Read More: Deshaun Watson to the Miami Dolphins: Trade rumors, speculation, projected 2021 team outlook

1. Miami Dolphins sign Aaron Jones

Miami Dolphins interested in Aaron Jones
Oct 5, 2020; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) scores and celebrates a touchdown on the first drive against the Atlanta Falcons during their football game Monday, October 5, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s no secret that Miami has been linked to this stud 26-year-old running back. The team has $33.34 million to spend under the cap and will create more room ahead of the start of NFL free agency later in March. Simply put, these Dolphins have the funds to make Jones a top-five paid back in the league — something he’s demanding from the Green Bay Packers.

A former mid-round pick from UTEP, Jones has tallied a robust 3,017 total yards and 30 touchdowns at a clip of 5.7 yards per touch over the past two seasons. He’s a legit all-around back with tremendous receiving ability. Paying him north of $12 million annually wouldn’t handcuff the Dolphins, especially considering the fact that they can push back the big cap hits to beyond the 2021 season. It just makes too much sense.

Read More: NFL salary cap tracker: Where each team stands in 2021

2. Miami Dolphins draft Najee Harris

Miami Dolphins draft Najee Harris
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris (22) celebrates after beating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming for a second that the Dolphins don’t land Deshaun Watson in a trade, they boast four of the top-50 picks in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. One of those selections will likely be used on a running back. Why not go with the consensus top player at this position in reigning Heisman finalist Najee Harris?

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Harris is seen as a generational back. His improvements at Alabama over the past couple seasons adds to this. This past year saw Harris put up 1,891 yards and a ridiculous 30 touchdowns at a clip of 6.4 yards per touch. He’d be an immediate Pro Bowl-caliber performer and could potentially be had later in the first round if Miami opted to trade down from 18.

Related: NFL mock draft 2022 – Quarterbacks make NFL history

3. Miami Dolphins trade for Ezekiel Elliott

NFL trades: Ezekiel Elliott
Jan 3, 2021; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs the ball against New York Giants cornerback James Bradberry (24) in the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

This one seemingly comes out of left field. As of right now, there’s no concrete information coming from Dallas suggesting that Elliott could be on the trade block. However, common sense seems to indicate this could be the case. Dallas is in salary cap hell. They have a younger and cheaper alternative on the roster in Tony Pollard. If the Cowboys can find a suitor for Elliott and his bloated contract, owner Jerry Jones and Co. would have to think about it.

The question becomes whether the Miami Dolphins would have interest in an Ezekiel Elliott trade. He put up less than 1,000 yards on the ground during a substandard 2020 season. The All-Pro is also playing under a six-year, $90 million contract.

This seems to suggest interest in a trade might be muted. That’s until we realize how dominant Elliott was from 2016-19. There’s also a pretty reasonable out on his contract following the 2022 campaign. Adding to the Fins’ potential interest in Elliott is the fact that he’d count less than $10 million against the cap in 2021 and wouldn’t cost a premium draft pick.

Read More: Top 50 NFL free agents of 2021

4. Miami Dolphins sign Chris Carson

NFL free agents: Chris Carson
NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

As it relates to the NFL free agent market at running back, Carson is likely the second-best option behind Aaron Jones. There’s also every reason to believe that he’d come cheaper — potentially in the $8 million per season average. That would be a boon for any team.

Carson, 26, has morphed into a genuine RB1 since the Seahawks made him a seventh-round pick back in 2017. Over the course of the past three seasons, the Oklahoma State product has tallied 4,045 total yards and 28 touchdowns. He’s just now hitting his prime and has proven to be a capable pass-catcher (94 receptions past three seasons). This could be a legit under-the-radar option for Miami.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Dolphins, check out #FinUp rumors, rankings, and news here.