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D'Andre Swift

Bears swiftly move to bolster backfield

Free agency is underway, and less than an hour in, it’s looking like running backs will be getting more than many expected. D’Andre Swift will sign a three-year deal worth $24.5 million with the Bears.

If Swift is signing a deal averaging $8.2 million, that bodes well for Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs. The Giants and Raiders may be wishing they had tagged those guys. While there’s a glut of running backs available, the salary cap rose by $30.6 million per team, and some of those extra dollars apparently will be flowing to the position.

The signing is surprising in that Swift hasn’t been a great pro. The Lions opted to give him away last year and had problems finding a team that would take him off their hands (the Eagles gave up only a pair of seventh-round picks and a fourth-round choice that won’t be executed until 2025). Swift has had some durability issues.

The Bears had some success last year with a trio of running backs: Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson and D’Onta Foreman. But the size of the this contract indicates Swift will be starting. (Foreman is a free agent, and it’s unlikely at this point that the Bears have any interest in re-signing him.)

The deal brings Swift back to the NFC North, meaning he’ll play two games each year against his original team. The Lions re-worked their backfield last year, adding two backs to replace Swift and Jamaal Williams. They drafted Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round, and they signed David Montgomery away from Chicago to a deal averaging $6 million. This Swift deal is a notch above that contract (and also comes in above the $6.35 million average Miles Sanders got from Carolina).

For fantasy purposes, it gets Swift away from having to watch Jalen Hurts bull in 1-yard touchdowns. He’ll get more goal-line touches in this offense. But Herbert and Johnson are viable backs; I expect they’ll be on the field a decent amount as well.

Both Philadelphia and Chicago last year finished with big rushing numbers, but both were helped along by running quarterbacks (Hurts for the Eagles and Justin Fields for the Bears). If we set aside the quarterbacks and look only at the running backs, both teams last year were closer to average in rushing production – about 90 yards per week, with 16 rushing touchdowns in a combined 34 games.

It's awfully early, but I don’t expect to see Swift as a priority heading into drafts. I might be more interested in using one of my final few picks on Roschon Johnson. Given Swift’s injury history, I expect we’ll see Johnson in a featured role at some point.

RUSHING PRODUCTION BY RUNNING BACKS
TeamAttYdsAvgTD
Miami3982,1835.527
Detroit4492,1574.824
San Francisco3981,9735.019
Atlanta4501,8404.18
Pittsburgh4041,8194.512
Indianapolis4161,8074.312
LA Rams4141,7524.217
Baltimore3641,6964.720
Buffalo3811,6884.47
Cleveland4301,6853.914
Tennessee3831,6314.314
Arizona3391,6154.89
Philadelphia3441,5324.57
Chicago3601,5194.29
Green Bay3681,4974.14
Denver3531,4314.15
Dallas3701,4253.99
Seattle3371,4034.29
Carolina3811,3803.66
Las Vegas3561,3763.98
Houston3791,3753.67
New England3561,3263.78
NY Jets3221,3204.16
Minnesota3261,3194.04
Kansas City3181,2954.19
Cincinnati3181,2944.19
Washington2981,2694.38
Jacksonville3581,2483.513
New Orleans3501,2383.59
Tampa Bay3601,2313.46
NY Giants3301,1833.67
LA Chargers3271,1353.57

—Ian Allan

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