The first 24 hours of the 2016 league year have been as busy as expected. Players at the running back position in particular have been flying off the market quickly.
Matt Forte? Signed by the New York Jets. Lamar Miller is a Houston Texan. The Jaguars scooped up Chris Ivory, while Doug Martin got a new deal to stay in Tampa Bay. Even Khiry Robinson has a new home already, joining Forte and the re-signed Bilal Powell in New York.
One player whose name is not among those who have already signed is James Starks, whose two-year deal with the Green Bay Packers just expired. However, he might be one of the next dominos to fall at the position. According to Adam Caplan of ESPN, the six-year veteran is taking a visit with an AFC East team:
Two more visits for #Patriots today: RB James Starks and TE Clay Harbor.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 10, 2016
Starks could be a nice fit in the Patriots offense as part of the multi-faceted running attack that Bill Belichick tends to use. He has skills in all areas - running, receiving, and blocking - and likely will come with a relatively cheap price tag.
Of course, with Forte off the market, Starks would arguably be one of the Packers' biggest targets in free agency, as the team will look to maintain an insurance policy for Eddie Lacy. Starks would certainly fit the bill, and he is coming off his most productive season as a Packer, which saw him fall seven yards from scrimmage short of 1,000. After battling injuries in his first few seasons, Starks has also shown durability recently; he played in just 22 of a possible 48 regular-season games in his first three seasons, but has missed just three since, and none in the past two years.
APC's bet is that Starks will not be signing with the Patriots immediately; considering how Ted Thompson values his own players and how those players have often tended to stay in Green Bay, our bet is that Starks would at least give Thompson and company an opportunity to compete with any potential contract offer. Still, the fact that he is now one of the most desirable running backs on the market and that he is drawing real interest from other teams could be a concern for Thompson and for Packers fans who would like to see him back in Green Bay again.