As for the regular season ending, teams will need to look at some pending free agents that could potentially hit the open market when the season ends. Many teams will be looking for veteran running back help in the off-season or spend a draft pick on a young back to fill a need. The man that is receiving the special attention is Tim Hightower.
In fact, Hightower entered the league with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. The Cardinals selected him in the 5th round as the 149th overall pick. Hightower was a solid running back with the Cardinals and joined the Redskins in 2011. He suffered a torn ACL and was forced to miss the rest of the 2011 season, plus was cut in 2012 from the Redskins due to the fact that they had Alfred Morris, Evan Royster, and Roy Helu Jr. Now, Hightower was out of the league till the 2015 season. Hightower could not get a NFL gig from the 2012, 2013, and 2014 season. An interesting fact is that Hightower played one game for the Blacktips (NFL experimental team in the experimental league).
In addition to the long absent, Hightower was in the New Orleans Saints’ training camp this year, but did not make the team due to the fact that the Saints had Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson, C.J. Spiller, and Marcus Murphy. Later, in the season when Ingram and Robinson got hurt, the Saints had no choices to pick from, but Sean Payton remembered he had a running back that tried out earlier in the season (Hightower) and he gave him a call. Payton did not look back at this call. Hightower also had a memorable 70 yard run against Payton’s Saints in the 2009 NFL divisional round.
Next, Hightower got his first NFL start in 4 years against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had a good game that helped lead the Saints to a 24-17 victory. Hightower had a team high 28 carries for 85 rushing yards and 1 touchdown. Hightower finished the season by playing in 8 games, but started only 3 with 96 carries for 375 rushing yards that resulted as 3.9 yards per carry. Tim also scored 4 rushing touchdowns. Hightower did not catch many balls for New Orleans, but can do so if asked. He also blocks well on passing downs.
Finally, Hightower is 29 years old and that is close to the end for running backs in today’s game. Hightower could receive a 2 year deal worth around $3 mil-$4 mil and get solid playing time between another running back or two. Also, Hightower would be a cheaper option for most teams instead of trying to sign the better running backs like Doug Martin and Lamar Miller this off-season. I could see Hightower resigning with the Saints if Sean Payton remains as the Saints’ head coach. Now, another team that could use a running back could be the Green Bay Packers with James Starks becoming a free agent after the conclusion of the playoffs and Eddie Lacy struggling dearly with an weight issue that has hurt his performance.
Note: Whoever picks up Hightower will get a solid 3 down back that is willing to work and does not mind sharing first team time with other running backs. Hightower is not flashy, but gets good yardage in a hard pounding style.