Running backs don’t matter. Running backs are only good for one contract. And running backs have the shortest careers. Try telling that to Frank Gore as he enters free agency looking for just his sixth different landing spot in his 16-year NFL career. Where are some options for the former New York Jets rusher ahead of his 17th season in the league?
Frank Gore Landing Spots
Frank Gore is the anomaly. Running backs are not meant to still be playing at 38 years old. In fact, the average running back career lasts for less than three years. However, heading into his 17th season, it’s clear that Gore isn’t your average running back. While playing for the New York Jets in 2020, he overtook the great Barry Sanders for third in all-time rushing yards in the NFL.
With 16,000 career rushing yards, he has Walter Payton in his sight. It would take him a 727-yard season to overtake the Chicago Bears’ great — a feat he hasn’t achieved in the last two seasons — but it would take a fool to tell him that he can’t achieve it. So which landing spots in free agency give Frank Gore the opportunity to at least attempt to surpass Payton?
Will the San Francisco 49ers bring Frank Gore back to where it all started?
The most obvious landing spot for Frank Gore in free agency is the San Francisco 49ers. Ultimately, this is what the veteran running back would like to happen. He first intimated at retiring as a 49er back in 2019. However, he has made it clear that he wants to play in 2021. This would be the perfect marriage of those two circumstances and a fairytale end to his career.
Gore racked up 11,073 of his rushing yards while wearing the number 21 jersey in San Francisco. Additionally, 64 of his 81 career touchdowns came in the 49ers jersey. Although the 49ers’ run-game has developed into a fast-paced offense, they could use a thumper in the backfield.
Their season was derailed by injury last year, and Gore would add a durable presence. Even as a 37-year-old last season he appeared in 15 games. Furthermore, he hasn’t had a season in his career with less than 10 appearances.
Could the Baltimore Ravens bring in Frank Gore?
Is there a better free agency landing spot for Frank Gore than the Baltimore Ravens? One of the NFL’s all-time leading rushers meets the most potent running team in the current NFL. It’s a match made in running back heaven.
The Ravens recently allowed Mark Ingram to hit free agency. Although he had a down year with an injury in 2020, the previous year he racked up 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns as the banger in their backfield.
They have a stacked running back room with J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, and Gus Edwards, but Gore would give them that veteran presence. Additionally, he adds the physical presence that Ingram used to supply to the offense. The Ravens can be a contender for a Super Bowl and that would be the ultimate way to end his incredible career.
Kansas City Chiefs offer the best chance for Frank Gore to contend for a championship?
If winning a Super Bowl is the ultimate motivation for Frank Gore then the Kansas City Chiefs have to be considered the favored landing spot. They have the best quarterback in the NFL, they have just invested heavily on the interior offensive line, and their offense can switch from an aerial to ground game at the drop of the hat.
They added a veteran presence to their running back room during last season. However, Le’Veon Bell is currently a free agent and seems unlikely to return. Although Gore isn’t the same athlete as Bell is, he doesn’t carry the same contract size or baggage. He still gives them an additional option to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Damien Williams, and Darrel Williams.
Bell only had 63 carries in the Chiefs’ offense last year so it would be difficult to imagine him surpassing Walter Payton in the all-time rushing chat. However, a Super Bowl ring would help ease that disappointment.
What is Frank Gore’s market value in free agency?
Frank Gore represents a low-cost running back option for any of the above landing spots. Over the last three years, he has earned just over $4 million dollars. His average contract value over that time has been $1.3 million per year. His most recent contract with the New York Jets was $1 million.
Gore is eager to keep playing so he isn’t going to be making ludicrous pay demands. He’ll be 38 years old at the start of the 2021 NFL season, and therefore, a one-year deal for around $1 million is a realistic expectation of his market value.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.