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Jerick McKinnon Landing Spots: Potential suitors for free agent running back

What are the potential landing spots for Jerick McKinnon as he becomes a free agent for the second time in his career this offseason?

Jerick McKinnon Landing Spots: Potential suitors for free agent running back
Dec 26, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon (28) runs the ball against the Arizona Cardinals in the third quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

After returning to the field for the 2020 NFL season, where are the potential landing spots for free agent RB Jerick McKinnon? Let’s take a look at some of the places McKinnon could head in the current offseason.

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Jerick McKinnon Landing Spots

McKinnon has served as a third-down back for the majority of his NFL career. Only once in his career has McKinnon topped 150 carries. That demonstrates he does not have the ceiling to be a lead back in the NFL at this point. Which teams could utilize McKinnon as a third-down back in 2021?

The Arizona Cardinals could utilize Jerick McKinnon

With Kenyan Drake set to depart in free agency, the expectation is that Chase Edmonds would step up to the lead back role. That would leave the backup role available for a player like Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon could serve as the defacto third-down back and potential red zone option for the Cardinals. In 2020, McKinnon ranked second on the team in red zone carries with 23 percent of the team carries.

The Las Vegas Raiders need a secondary back to replace Devontae Booker

In 2020, Booker had 93 carries for the Raiders in his role spelling Josh Jacobs. He also added 17 receptions on 21 targets. That role could be ideal for McKinnon. He could provide relief for Jacobs in order to change the pace of the offense. McKinnon could be a hybrid of the roles served by the likes of Booker and Jalen Richard in recent seasons.

Could the Miami Dolphins bring in McKinnon as a veteran option for their backfield?

As it stands heading into the new league year, the Dolphins look set to roll with Myles Gaskin as their lead back. However, they need to add more experienced options behind Gaskin in the running back room. McKinnon could provide that experience, as well as offer a change of pace to Gaskin for the offense. This is a fascinating potential landing spot for Jerick McKinnon.

McKinnon would provide an interesting option alongside Saquon Barkley

One of the things that makes Saquon Barkley so interesting is his ability to attack teams in the rushing and passing games. McKinnon has that ability, even if he has not handled a full workload in his career. While the Giants have added Booker as a direct backup to Barkley, McKinnon could still act as the third-down, pass-catching back.

Backing up Christian McCaffrey with McKinnon is an option for the Panthers

The problem with McCaffrey is that he is relatively unique in his style. Therefore, what makes this an interesting landing spot for Jerick McKinnon is that he can contribute in the passing game to a similar level as McCaffrey. McKinnon could be a short-term replacement for McCaffrey in terms of style if they needed a player to step in during a game.

Could Jerick McKinnon potentially replace James White in New England?

With James White looking destined to leave New England in free agency, Jerick McKinnon could step into that role White possessed. McKinnon would be able to play a role off of that of Sony Michel and Damien Harris. Filling that James White role in the New England offense could make this the perfect potential landing spot for Jerick McKinnon.

What is Jerick McKinnon’s market value in free agency?

After signing a four-year $30 million contract in San Francisco, McKinnon was unable to step on the field for two straight seasons. McKinnon actually restructured his deal with the 49ers in 2020 to significantly reduce his cap number. That restructure gives us a good idea of what McKinnon’s market value was this time last year. McKinnon played 2020 on a one-year, $1.16 million contract.

Related | NFL Team-by-Team Salary Cap and Cap Space for 2021

After racking up just 319 yards on 81 carries in 2020, it unlikely any potential landing spot is going to be willing to break the bank for Jerick McKinnon as a free agent in 2021. It seems very likely that he will end up playing on a deal that pays him a veteran minimum salary at its base. There could then potentially be incentives based on performance and playing time.

Timing could also be crucial for McKinnon in terms of market value. Deals signed later in free agency tend to be closer to the veteran minimum than those signed early.

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