Frank Gore will be 36 years old in May, but he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. The surefire Hall-of-Famer has amassed over 18,500 total yards in his career with 95 total scores.
After completing a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins, Gore is looking to play at least one more year, and will be entering his 15th season in the NFL.
For an NFL player to play 15 seasons is remarkable, but for a running back, it’s near improbable. Yet here is Gore defying all of the odds.
When he signed with the Dolphins last offseason, it was widely expected that it would be in a role to complement Kenyan Drake. However, when the early depth charts for the Dolphins came out, it had both Gore and Drake listed as the starters. While the argument can surely be made that Drake was vastly underutilized under former head coach Adam Gase, it was evident that Gore was the more consistent runner between the two.
Gore averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 2018, his best average since 2012. He saw the least amount of carries since his rookie season, which is to be expected, but it shows that he still has what it takes to be a pivotal runner and leader for any team.
So as a free agent, which teams could be interested in acquiring the 36-year old?
Let’s take a look at some possibilities.
5. Carolina Panthers
In 2018, it was the Christian McCaffrey show in Carolina. McCaffrey was the ultimate workhorse back in the entire league, totaling 326 touches, 1,965 yards, and 13 touchdowns.
While his fantasy owners were absolutely thrilled with the level of production, McCaffrey cannot sustain that kind of tread over a long-term period. Carolina is going to need to bring someone else in that can take the load off of McCaffrey from time to time.
The health of Cam Newton for 2019 remains an issue as well. If Newton is held out for any length of time, it’s most likely then that the Panthers will heavily lean on the run game during his absence.
Should that be the case, then the need for a running back will be an even bigger priority. Gore could be the perfect complement runner behind McCaffrey, and the two could even be on the field together at times, with McCaffrey flanked as a wideout.
The Panthers let C.J. Anderson go at the beginning of last season, but they’ll need someone behind McCaffrey this year that they can depend on.
Gore’s career speaks for itself in his case to be that player.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
On the surface, signing a 36-year old running back to, arguably, the most high-powered offense in the NFL, doesn’t seem like a great idea. Of course, Gore is not your typical 36-year old back, however, and the Chiefs wouldn’t be looking at him as their every-down back.
With the release of Kareem Hunt last year, Kansas City will, in all likelihood, be in the market to add a running back this offseason.
The Chiefs did extend Damien Williams for an additional two years after his impressive run to close out the season. Darrell Williams is the only other running back currently on the roster, however, with Spencer Ware now an unrestricted free agent.
While it’s possible that the Chiefs could make a splash in free agency for someone like Mark Ingram or Tevin Coleman, it’s probably more wise that they use that money towards improving their defense.
Signing someone like Gore to a one-year deal would be a low investment maneuver on a player that has shown to be quite productive. Gore would not be asked to touch the ball 20 times a game, but bringing a guy in that can get you four to five yards a clip makes sense.
As for Gore, he hasn’t been to a Super Bowl since his appearance with the 49ers in 2012, and signing with a team like the Chiefs could be his last shot to get a ring.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
The big question surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason is what they will at do quarterback, and for good reason. What’s not being talked about, however, is their running back situation.
The relationship with Leonard Fournette is dicey, and it’s not a guarantee that he’ll be on the roster for the Jaguars in 2019. If Jacksonville can find a suitable trade partner, Fournette could be on his way out.
T.J. Yeldon is an unrestricted free agent, and Carlos Hyde is likely to be released when the new league year begins. That leaves just newly-signed Thomas Rawls and David Williams on the Jaguars depth chart.
Assuming that Fournette remains on the team, and early signs indicate that he will be, the Jaguars do need to find a suitable player alongside him. Injuries have been the issue with Fournette, and there’s no reason to believe that he can last a full season.
For an offense that has had trouble moving the ball for a number of years, the Jaguars could do much worse than Gore. Gore would come cheap, and Jacksonville needs help in all areas on their offense.
He could be a short-term answer for them at the position while they sort out what to do elsewhere.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
It may have seemed a bit crowded in the Eagles backfield in 2018, but Philadelphia will still be in the market for a running back this coming season.
Darren Sproles will be retired, and Jay Ajayi is not expected to be back ahead of his free agency. All three of Josh Adams, Corey Clement, and Wendell Smallwood, were given their opportunities last year, but none of them overly impressed the coaching staff for an argument to be named the starter.
This could be another team that Gore could land on that has the capability to contend for a Super Bowl in 2019.
Head coach Doug Pederson prefers to alternate his running backs in between series. That could be the perfect scenario for a player like Gore, given his age.
The Eagles may elect to draft a running back instead, but if they bring in a veteran leader like Gore, he could be their starter in Week 1, given the inconsistencies of the other players.
1. Miami Dolphins
It is not out of the realm of possibility to see Gore simply return to Miami this season.
While the Dolphins are clearly in rebuild mode, signing Gore to another one-year deal would not impact them any in the long run. Gore grew up in Miami, having attended the University of Miami, and possibly wants to end his career in his hometown.
The Dolphins are not expected to contend for anything so Gore would have to be okay with that. If he is, I could see the Dolphins organization interested in bringing Gore back for his veteran presence, and a deal getting done.
With a new coaching staff in place, it’s highly possible that Drake takes back the number one spot, and sophomore Kalen Ballage could leap Gore on the depth chart as well.
Despite just one season with the Dolphins, Miami is home for Gore, and the Dolphins would be happy to welcome him back with open arms.