With RB Ahman Green a Houston Texan, what will the Packers do to replace him?
The first answer is RB Vernand Morency. Morency showed some promise in 2006, but overall Football Outsiders says he wasn't very good because his value per play was below average. Plus he had a low 40% success rate which measures consistency. Morency was stuffed a lot at the line of scrimmage and his two fumbles in only 96 attempts is not a good ratio. However he was a solid 19.7% receiving DVOA. Overall he is better suited as a backup.
RB Noah Herron would actually be a better choice, because Football Outsiders says his DVOA (defense adjusted value per play) was 7.6% in limited action. Of running backs with over 75 carries last season, 7.6% would be equal to RB Clinton Portis. He did pretty well as a receiver too with 18.7% receiving DVOA, good for 12th in the league. Herron deserves to return in 2007, but it seems unlikely that Ted Thompson would pencil him in as a starter.
The list of remaining free agent running backs is pretty thin, except for RB Michael Turner. He has an eye popping 6 yards/carry average for his career. Football Outsiders has him listed 17th, right behind Green, in 2006, but in the middle of the column is his DVOA ranking at number 1, even ahead of his MVP teammate LaDainian Tomlinson. The problem with signing Turner is that he is a restricted free agent and would cost the Packers their 1st and 3rd round pick plus a big contract. Thompson has never traded away a 1st round draft choice, so this seems unlikely to happen. Also, Turner has only caught 7 passes in 3 NFL seasons, so he isn't a complete running back. One final problem might be that the Packers don't have a 3rd round pick available to surrender to San Diego because they trade it to Oakland for WR Randy Moss.
The most likely scenario is that the RB Marshawn Lynch rumors start up in full force. However there are a number of good college running backs available in the 2nd or 3rd round too. I went over a few names at my old blog, but with Green's departure I expect to give each possible RB draft choice his own post in the coming month.
One name that might catch your eye as an unrestricted free agent is former Packer RB Najeh Davenport. Thompson did resign Davenport before releasing him during the 2006 preseason. Then Davenport resurfaced as the backup running back in Pittsburgh and appeared to actually stay healthy all season long too. The problem with Davenport last season was that he was really awful. Scroll down Football Outsiders and you'll find him battling it out for worst in the league honors.