Entering training camp, the New York Jets look to have a loaded group at running back. There are currently seven backs under contract. While it’s no surprise that new addition Le’Veon Bell will be the feature back, the depth chart behind him is a bit of an unknown. Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon are picks that were made by previous GM Mike Maccagnan, while Bilal Powell will be entering his 9th season in Green and White.
Former Green Bay Packers tailback Ty Montgomery is a new addition this offseason, and looks to also compete for a role on special teams. At the bottom of the list is unproven De’Angelo Henderson and undrafted free agent Valentine Holmes, who will have an exempted spot on the practice squad as an international player.
Adam Gase likes to run a multiple look offense that is tailored around his roster’s strengths and weaknesses. This will create opportunity for more than one running back to be on the field at a time, which can confuse opposing teams schematically. It is very likely we will see Bell and Montgomery split out wide or in the slot often, as Gase loves to utilize backs who have shown themselves to be a threat in the passing game.
If Powell can return to form after suffering a nearly career ending neck injury last season, he will compete with Montgomery as the backup. McGuire and Cannon will have a battle throughout training camp to see who will end up as RB3, with McGuire getting the push in experience and overall potential. Cannon was a bit of a disappointment in his rookie season, but proved to be a reliable gunner on special teams. If he is able to improve his return skills, he may avoid getting cut. If he is in danger of not making the 53-man roster, the Jets may be able to stash him on IR to start the season.
The Jets will likely trim the number of running backs they keep on the roster in half, keeping only 4 to start the year. Due to inexperience and lack of production, Cannon and Henderson are the long shots. However, if Powell can’t recover enough to play at full speed, releasing him would possibly signal the end of his career.
Gase and Co. will have many decisions to make regarding the position in the upcoming months, and it sets up for healthy competition in the summer. The versatility of this group gives it the Jets plenty of moving parts and opportunities to create mismatches. A welcome change from year’s past.