Marlon Mack has become the odd man out in the Indianapolis backfield.
The fifth-year pro ran for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019 -- but he's never played a full season, and he missed nearly all of 2020 with an Achilles injury. With Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines -- who just signed a three-year extension with the Colts -- getting the majority of the carries to start the 2021 season, a fully healthy Mack is looking for a fresh start.
He and the team are working on a mutually agreed upon effort to trade him. As a 25-year-old on a one-year contract, Mack could be a great option for any and all RB-needy teams. Suitors have until the Nov. 2 trade deadline to pursue the one-cut runner.
Here are three potential fits as trade partners:
The Falcons' run game is averaging 82.7 yards per game (28th in the NFL) behind the efforts of Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson. While Arthur Smith prefers to run downhill -- like he did with Derrick Henry in Tennessee -- Mack would add a much-needed explosive element to this unit as an outside-zone back. The Falcons must find a way to move the chains and get points on the board after totaling 48 through the first three weeks. Mack will bring speed and talent to a weak position group in Atlanta.
The Ravens' backfield has unfortunately taken a front seat on the 2021 injury train, with J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill all going down with season-ending injuries before Week 1. They have since signed veteran castoffs Latavius Murray, Le'Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman, with Murray and Ty'Son Williams, an undrafted free agent who spent most of 2020 on the Ravens' practice squad, getting the bulk of the carries at the position. The Ravens boast the league's best rushing attack at 185.3 rushing yards per game, thanks to electric quarterback Lamar Jackson, but adding a speedster like Mack will only make this unit scarier and tougher to defend. Any edge Baltimore can have in an uber-competitive AFC North is worth pursuing.
To be honest, I'm a little surprised John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan haven't made a trade for Mack yet. Through three weeks, the 49ers have already marched out a carousel of running backs, with Raheem Mostert, Elijah Mitchell, Trey Sermon, JaMycal Hasty and Kyle Juszczyk all taking snaps in the backfield. Mostert was lost for the season after logging just two carries in Week 1 with a knee injury, Hasty landed on IR with a high-ankle sprain ahead of the Green Bay game and sixth-round rookie Mitchell missed Week 3 with a shoulder injury. Sermon had 10 carries for 31 yards and a TD as the featured back Sunday, but Shanahan's offense, which is averaging 105 rushing yards per game, deserves more production out of the position. Kerryon Johnson was promoted to the active roster prior to Week 3, though he didn't get any carries Sunday night. Still, it feels like a no-brainer to trade a late-round pick and secure Mack, a more proven player, as a one-year rental.
Top 15 running backs
With the 2021 NFL season underway, former All-Pro running back and current NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew examines all RBs and ranks his top 15. For the first quarter of the season, the Ground Index rankings are based on a combination of:
1) Player accomplishments prior to the 2021 season.
2) Weekly performances, factoring in strength of opponent.
Rankings will be based solely on this season's efforts following Week 4. Now, let's get to it. Entering Week 4, here is MJD's pecking order, with arrows reflecting changes from last week's list:
2021 stats: 3 games | 80 att | 353 rush yds | 4.41 ypc | 3 rush TD | 12 rec | 105 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles
Henry's 58-yard Week 1 seems like it came ages ago, with the Titans star backing up a 182-yard rushing performance in Week 2 with 113 yards on 28 carries in Sunday's win over the Colts. I feel like I'm going to be saying this a lot this year, but it's Henry's world. We're just living in it.
2021 stats: 3 games | 48 att | 262 rush yds | 5.46 ypc | 3 rush TD | 3 rec | 21 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 1 fumble
Chubb wasn't super efficient against the Bears, but he still helped the Browns' second-ranked rushing attack rack up 215 yards on the ground. He has now logged four consecutive games with at least 80 rushing yards, the longest active streak in the NFL.
2021 stats: 3 games | 41 att | 158 rush yds | 3.85 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 10 rec | 75 rec yds | 3 rec TD | 0 fumbles
Though the Packers rank 30th in rushing this season, Jones has been all over the field as a threat in both the run and pass games. He is tied for the league lead in scrimmage touchdowns, bringing his total to 35 since 2019 (second-most in that span).
2021 stats: 3 games | 52 att | 177 rush yds | 3.40 ypc | 0 rush TD | 10 rec | 62 rec yds | 2 rec TDs | 0 fumbles
Kamara posted 100-plus scrimmage yards for the first team this season against the Patriots, thanks to a strong performance on the ground. His 89 rushing yards were more than he had in Weeks 1 and 2 combined.
2021 stats: 3 games | 44 att | 199 rush yds | 4.52 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 7 rec | 53 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles
Zeke found his groove Monday night against the Eagles and looks to keep it going against a Panthers defense that has allowed just 31.3 rushing yards per game heading into Week 4. He has a chance to register at least 70 rushing yards and one rushing TD in his third straight game, something he's done twice in his career.
2021 stats: 2 games | 42 att | 192 rush yds | 4.57 ypc | 1 rush TD | 8 rec | 60 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 1 fumble
Cook was out last week with an ankle injury, but it doesn't appear he'll be sidelined long-term. I gotta say, it was reassuring to see the Vikings' depth at the running back position, as Alexander Mattison took the torch with flying colors against Seattle.
2021 stats: 3 games | 67 att | 286 rush yds | 4.27 ypc | 1 rush TD | 6 rec | 29 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles
Mixon took advantage of a T.J. Watt-less Steelers defense, rushing for 90 yards on 18 carries (5.0 yards per carry) -- a good outing after a mediocre Week 2. He's playing with a lot of confidence heading into a meeting with the Jags' 17th-ranked run defense.
2021 stats: 3 games | 35 att | 166 rush yds | 4.74 ypc | 1 rush TD | 15 rec | 113 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles
Ekeler is stringing together a good start to the season after he added 107 scrimmage yards, including a 16-yard touchdown reception, in Sunday's win over the Chiefs. Averaging 4.7 rushing yards per carry and adding splash plays in the passing game, Ekeler is the perfect weapon for emerging MVP candidate Justin Herbert.
2021 stats: 3 games | 41 att | 202 rush yds | 4.93 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 5 rec | 28 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 1 fumble
Carson has provided balance to the Seahawks' offense by being extremely efficient. In fact, he joins Lamar Jackson as the only two players with more than 200 rushing yards on fewer than 45 carries this season.
2021 stats: 3 games | 52 att | 201 rush yds | 3.87 ypc | 1 rush TD | 16 rec | 163 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles
It was gut-wrenching to see McCaffrey sidelined again after a hamstring injury occurred in the second quarter of last week's victory over Houston. Before he exited, McCaffrey racked up seven carries for 31 yards and two catches for 9 yards. While the Panthers decided to not put him on injured reserve, meaning he won't be required to miss at least three weeks, they don't want to mess with these soft-tissue injuries. Hopefully, he gets back to 100 percent soon.
2021 stats: 3 games | 42 att | 171 rush yds | 4.07 ypc | 0 rush TD | 8 rec | 70 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles
The second-year back had limited carries (10) against the Titans but made the most of them by averaging 6.4 yards per attempt. With an ailing quarterback and a beat up O-line, Taylor is going to have to channel his scorching second half of last season to help his team out of a winless start.
2021 stats: 3 games | 29 att | 165 rush yds | 5.69 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 10 rec | 104 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles
Hunt wore down the Bears' defense to earn his most scrimmage yards in a game since joining the Browns in 2019. He finished with 10 carries for 81 rushing yards and six receptions for 74 receiving yards with one rushing TD. He, like backfield mate Nick Chubb, is a nightmare behind that O-line in Kevin Stefanski's scheme, and I love it!
2021 stats: 3 games | 39 att | 134 rush yds | 3.44 ypc | 1 rush TD | 9 rec | 56 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles
Saquon gave the Giants a chance to get their first win with a fourth-quarter touchdown against Atlanta, but a defensive meltdown put those thoughts to rest. It's clear the Giants' star running back is getting more and more comfortable every time he steps out on the field in his return from an ACL tear.
2021 stats: 3 games | 46 att | 203 rush yds | 4.41 ypc | 1 rush TD | 6 rec | 49 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles
The Bears totaled 47 offensive yards against the Browns, and Montgomery had 34 of them on 10 attempts. It was a poor game plan all around, so I'm not going to fault Montgomery for a lack of carries. That said, I expect more from the Bears back against Detroit.
2021 stats: 3 games | 45 att | 190 rush yds | 4.22 ypc | 0 rush TD | 6 rec | 95 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 2 fumbles
With a big performance against the Bills, Gibson now has five career games with at least 100 scrimmage yards and one TD. Gibson, who had 11 rushing TDs in his rookie season, really impressed on a 73-yard catch-and-run touchdown, weaving in and out of Bills defenders before punctuating the effort with a dive over the goal line. Now it's about finding consistency.