clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rex Burkhead an under-the-radar player in NFL free agency

Expect Rex Burkhead to draw interest throughout the NFL. The question is, will the Bengals match whatever offer he receives?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Rex Burkhead’s value in free agency will be one of the toughest to project this offseason.

While the talented running back showed plenty of potential in his brief time as a featured back this season, he did it in only a handful of games, after never really playing significant snaps in his four year NFL career.

That’s why Pro Football Focus doesn’t have Burkhead among their top NFL free agents, but they do have him among their top under-the-radar guys to watch for.

9. Rex Burkhead, RB, Bengals (74.5 PFF Grade)

Burkhead is an intriguing free agent this offseason, as he shows good ability to make defenders miss, with an elusive rating of 49.9 (albeit from a limited sample size). Burkhead has good vision and burst, with very little wear and tear with just 89 career carries. This past season, Burkhead finally got his chance following the injury to Giovani Bernard, and graded very well. On 74 carries, Burkhead averaged a solid 4.6 yards per carry, with 3.0 coming after contact. In the final game of the season, the Bengals fed the former Nebraska Cornhusker 27 times; he turned those opportunities into 119 yards, two touchdowns, and two missed tackles forced against one of the best run defenses in the NFL (Baltimore). While Burkhead probably isn’t an every-down back, he should be valuable to teams looking to add a change-of-pace back.

Other under-the-radar free agents PFF acknolwedged in their ranking include Ravens right tackle Ricky Wagner and fullback Kyle Juszczyk, Patriots safety Duron Harmon, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen and Packers center J.C. Tretter.

A former sixth-round pick out of Nebraska via the 2013 NFL Draft, Burkhead was the second back Cincinnati drafted that year after grabbing Giovani Bernard in Round 2. It was Bernard and Jeremy Hill who would get the bulk of the touches during much of Burkhead’s tenure, but injuries finally allowed him to shine this season.

The fourth-year running back finally got his chance as the starting running back in Week 17 against the Ravens, and he did not disappoint. Burkhead sliced and diced the Ravens’ stout defense with an onslaught of solid chunk plays for four quarters.

He totaled 119 yards rushing and also added 25 yards receiving. It was arguably the best game a Bengals running back had this season, and it’s why re-signing Burkhead is a priority for the team this offseason.

Unfortunately, Week 17 may have been the final time we see Burkhead in stripes. Once he hits free agency, you can bet a number of teams will be lining up to give him a decent contract while also giving him the chance to start (or at least be the No. 2), something he was never given in Cincinnati until it was too late.