Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Successor

from Foxsports.com
The team's admission that it will entertain trade proposals for "franchised" RB Edgerrin James doesn't necessarily mean the two-time league rushing champion will play elsewhere in 2005. A suitor must be willing to make James one of the league's highest-paid players at his position. But even if James returns for a seventh season, it's clear he isn't included in any long-term plans. That increases the importance of RB Dominic Rhodes proving he can be the answer. Rhodes recently signed a two-year, $4.75 million contract that kept him off the free-agent market and provided the team with a reliable option if James departs. Rhodes doesn't possess James' all-around talents, especially as a receiver or pass blocker. But he has been an effective runner when called upon. Rhodes is powerful, has a burst and can make tacklers miss. The only concern is his health. He missed the 2002 season with a knee injury and occasionally has been bothered by a shoulder injury. . . .

Don't rule out the team using one of its first-day draft picks on a running back to be James' eventual successor. Under that scenario, Rhodes could open the season as the starter while the rookie learned the ropes. It would be similar to how St. Louis handled its running game in 2004 with Marshall Faulk eventually yielding significant playing time to first-round draft pick Steven Jackson. . . .